I may have mentioned this once or twice before, but, I’m always on the search for quick and easy meals that flavorful, don’t require a slew of ingredients and gives me enough leftovers for a few days. This pasta dish checks all of those boxes.
I started by cooking the pasta. Then, I sautéed garlic, browned the sausage, added frozen peas and finally heavy cream and butter. After bringing it to a boil I added in the pasta and that was it. You can’t top something as simple as that.
Rigatoni with Sausage & Peas
1 pound rigatoni
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced
1 pound sweet Italian sausage meat or sausages with casings removed
12 ounces frozen green peas
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
4 tablespoons butter
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil, add pasta and cooking for 8 to 10 minutes, until al dente and then drain.
In a large skillet heat oil over medium heat and sauté garlic. Add the sausage and brown. Then add the green peas and simmer for 5 minutes. Slowly add the heave cream and butter and bring to a slight boil. Cook for 5 minutes and then toss with cooked pasta and top with parmesan cheese.
Recipe from allrecipes
I recently got a request for a basic yellow cupcake with vanilla frosting. No sprinkles, no additional flavors or anything, just plain vanilla. I can understand… One of my favorite desserts is a yellow cupcake with chocolate frosting. It’s such a simple and satisfying combination and sometimes that simplicity is a better dessert than something intricate and complicated in flavor. It’s a comfort and familiarity. For the cupcake, I tried out a vanilla cupcake recipe I got from an issue of Food Network Magazine quite some time ago and for the frosting, I whipped up half a batch of my favorite vanilla frosting from Martha Stewart. Final result, the perfect Vanilla Square Cupcake.
1 1/3 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
1/2 cup milk*
*I used whole milk
Preheat oven to 350 F and line a 12-cup muffin pan with paper liners.
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt in a medium bowl.
In a large bowl, beat the butter on medium-high speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Add the sugar and continue beating until creamy. Beat in the eggs 1 at a time and then beat in the vanilla extract.
Beat the flour mixture into the butter mixture in three batches, alternating with the milk. Beat until just combine and then divide the batter among the muffin pan.
Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until a cake tester comes out clean. Transfer the pan to a cool rack and allow to cool for 5 minutes. Remove the cupcakes and transfer them to the rack and allow to cool completely.
Recipe from Food Network Magazine
Fluffy Vanilla Frosting
1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, at room temperature
2 cups confectioners’ sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract
In a large bowl, beat the butter with an electric mixer on medium-high speed until pale and creamy, about 2 minutes.
Reduce the speed of the mixer to medium and add the sugar 1/2 cup at a time, beating well after each addition. After adding the first cup and then second cup increase the speed of the mixer to high and beat for 10 seconds to aerate the frosting.
Add the vanilla extract and beat the frosting until its smooth.
Recipe from Martha Stewart
It’s the first day of spring and unfortunately the temperatures aren’t spring-like and there’s snow in the forecast for tomorrow. Too bad the weather doesn’t automatically switch with the seasons – of course people would only enjoy that for the warmer months. Not many people would be too keen on frigid temps and snow the first day of winter, although it would make for a white Christmas! I’m welcoming spring today with a lemon treat. I’m not all that sure that lemon is synonymous with spring – I think it more of a summer flavored dessert – but, when I Googled Spring desserts a bunch of lemon ones were the first to come up. So, the lemon treat I settled on was Lemon Pudding Cakes.
I started by making the lemon base of the cakes by mixing together egg yolks, buttermilk, lemon juice and zest. Once those ingredients were well combined, I sifted in flour, sugar and salt and mixed these ingredients until combined.
Next I beat the egg whites until stiff peaks formed. Now, we all have those kitchen tasks we’re not fond of doing. I used to dislike having to mince garlic until I purchased a garlic mincer. Another task I dislike, beating egg whites into stiff peaks, well by accident, well not really accident, I finally realized what I was doing wrong… I was using the wrong bowl. I would normally beat them in a wide stainless bowl and I guess it would take long because of the larger surface of the bowl. I didn’t feel like grabbing that bowl when making these pudding cakes so I grabbed a smaller stainless bowl instead and my egg white were ready in half the time. I apologize to those of you who are like “Duh.” Sometimes we get so used to doing things a certain way we don’t stop to think of a more efficient way to do it.
After the egg white were ready I folded them – a small amount at a time- into the lemon mixture. I then divvied up the batter among 4 ramekins and baked them in a water bath. After letting them cool, I inverted them on a dish and topped them with fresh strawberries and confectioners’ sugar. I knew these were going to be delicious, but, I was surprised by just how good they are. The cake texture was reminiscent of a ricotta cheesecake and there was a nice layer of lemon pudding on top… Hence, a Lemon Pudding Cake. This was a quick dessert if you are looking for a nice dessert for a small get together or, you just want a dessert that will remind you of the warmer temps that are sure to come.
Lemon Pudding Cakes
2/3 cup superfine sugar, plus more for dusting
2 eggs, separated
2/3 cup reduced fat buttermilk
2 tablespoons lemon juice*
1 tablespoon lemon zest*
1/4 cup flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
Preheat the oven to 325 F. Butter and lightly sugar 4 ramekins.**
In a large bowl add egg yolks, buttermilk, lemon juice and lemon zest and using a hand mixer beat until well combine on medium speed. Sift in flour, sugar and salt into the mixture and beat on low until well combined.
In a separate bowl, beat egg whites until stiff peaks form. Gently fold the egg whites into the lemon mixture a little at a time until completely incorporated.
Divide the batter evenly among the ramekins and bake in a water bath. Place the ramekins in a large roasting pan and fill hallway with water.
Bake for 45 minutes until the top springs back when gently pressed. All the cakes to cool slightly and then invert onto a plate and garnish with fresh berries and confectioners’ sugar.
**I sprayed my ramekins with cooking spray then sprinkled sugar in them.
Recipe from Food Network
While spring may be a few days away the weather is still cold enough for some hearty soup. And while this soup may not have any meat in it, it’s still filling thanks to the array of vegetables. I was a bit intimidated by the amount of ingredients – I tend to avoid recipes that have too many ingredients – but, they are all pretty simple and some I actually had on hand.
I added most of my ingredients to my slow cooker and then set it to cook on low for 8 hours. I began checking on it after 5.5 hours as I didn’t want my vegetables to over-cook and break down, especially the zucchini. Ultimately my soup was ready in 6 hours, my vegetables were tender and still intact.
I then cooked the elbow macaroni in pot of boiling salted water and added it to the soup along with chopped baby spinach. I cooked it on low for an additional 15 minutes and it was done.
The Minestrone was flavorful and as I said earlier hearty and, the leftovers tasted even better the next day and even better the day after that.
Slow Cooker Vegetarian Minestrone
6 cups vegetable broth
1 28 ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 15 ounce can kidney beans, drained and rinsed
1 large onion, chopped
2 ribs celery, diced
2 large carrots, diced
1 cup frozen green beans
1 small zucchini, cut into quarter moons
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon fresh parsley, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon salt
3/4 teaspoons thyme
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 cup elbow macaroni
4 cups chopped fresh spinach
Combine all ingredients from the broth through the black pepper in a 6-quart slow cooker and cook on low for 6-8 hours, until vegetable are tender.
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil and cook the elbow macaroni for about 8 minutes, until cooked through but still firm, drain.
Add the macaroni and spinach to slow cooker and cook for another 15 minutes. Top with parmesan cheese.
Recipe from allrecipes
It’s March 14th, otherwise known as Pi Day! So named, because of the irrational number 3.14 that goes on infinitely. So, enjoy some pie today in honor of the day. Not a fan of pie, have a slice of pizza from a pizza pie or try your hand at a savory pie, like a quiche. Or, you could out on a limb and have some cheesecake. I actually baked a cheesecake a few years ago in honor of the day. I’ve also made a Banana Cream Pie and a Blueberry Pie as well to honor the day.
I was in search of a new pie to make for today and was stumped. I flipped through an entire book dedicated to pies and nothing popped at me and then I remembered I had a bag of shredded coconut in my cabinet that I had purchased to make crispy coconut cookies – which I haven’t gotten around to – so, I decided on a Coconut Custard Pie. This is actually one of my favorite pies from my youth. I remember my Dad bringing home the Entenmann’s version from the supermarket when I was a kid. Unfortunately, Entenmann’s has discontinued it, so the flavor is a distant memory now. I actually tried making Coconut Custard Pie once before and it came out horrible because I didn’t use whole milk and I think the missing fat from the milk was the leading culprit of my failing. The custard never formed.
Thankfully I had no issues with this pie… The custard formed, the shredded coconut rose to the top during baking and it was the perfect balance of the coconut flavor and sweetness.
Coconut Custard Pie
1 homemade or store bough 9-inch pie crust*
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
3 eggs, at room temperature, beaten
2 tablespoons flour
1/2 cup sugar
1 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1 1/2 cup whole milk, at room temperature
3/4 teaspoons vanilla extract**
*I used a frozen deep-dish one
**For a more of coconut flavor used coconut extract
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
Arrange pie crust into a 9-inch pie plate.
In a large bowl combine the butter, eggs, flour, sugar, coconut, milk and vanilla extract. Use a hand mixer to blend all of the ingredients together. Make sure the sugar is dissolved.
Pour the mixture into the prepared pie crust and sprinkle with nutmeg. Bake in the preheated oven for 45-60 minutes, covering the edges of the pie with aluminum foil for the first 25 minutes and then remove. Pie will be ready when the custard has puffed up – sides and center.
Remove from the over and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
Recipe from Bunny’s Warm Oven
So, last week I brought you a Chocolate Chip Cheesecake made in my slow cooker and this week I am bringing you a Sour Cream Cheesecake. The recipes are quite similar, but, I actually preferred this cheesecake a little more. As I mentioned last week, I wasn’t too keen on the chocolate chips in the cheesecake.
I began by making a graham cracker crust. I pressed the crumbs onto the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 6-inch springform pan. Next I made the filling by beating together the ingredients for the cheesecake. Quick not, the recipe called for almond extract, but, if you are not a fan of almond extract feel free to substitute vanilla extract in its place. After making the batter I poured it into my prepared pan and then placed the pan in my slow cooker on top of a rack and filled it with a 1/2 inch of water. After cooking it on high for 2 hours I turned my slow cooker off and let the cheesecake stay in the slow cooker covered for an hour.
Afterwards, I let the cheesecake cool completely on wire rack before placing in the refrigerator to chill before slicing and enjoying.
Slow Cooker Sour Cream Cheesecake
3/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 1/2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon sugar
12 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
1 tablespoon flour
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon almond extract*
1 cup sour cream
*Can substitute vanilla extract if you prefer
In a medium bowl mix the graham cracker crumbs, the melted butter, cinnamon, a tablespoon of sugar and a pinch of salt. Press the crumbs over the bottom and slightly up the sides of a 6-inch springform pan.
Using a stand mixer or a handheld mixer beat the cream cheese with the flour, remaining sugar, and a 1/4 teaspoon salt on medium-high speed until smooth, about 2 minutes. Add the eggs and almond extract and beat at medium speed until blended. Add the sour cream and beat until smooth. Pour into the prepared pan.
Place a rack inside the insert of your slow cooker and fill with a 1/2 inch of water. Place the pan on top of the rack and cover the slow cooker and cook on high for 2 hours. Turn the slow cooker off and keeping the lid on let the cheesecake cool inside of the slow cooker.
After an hour, remove the cheesecake and cool completely on a wire rack. Once cooled refrigerate at least four hours before serving.
Recipe from Food & Wine
Remember a few years ago when whoopie pies were all the rage? I remember ripping out quite a few recipes from different magazines. Now, they didn’t go away, people just moved on to another rage. In fact, whoopie pies have been around for quite some time. Traditionally found in the New England area – they are considered the official state treat (who knew that was a thing!?!) of Maine and a Pennsylvania Amish tradition – you can find them in all parts of the country. I am sure depending on the region and season the flavors can vary greatly. Imagine a blueberry version from Maine made with fresh blueberries… YUM!
All this talk about them, let’s get to the bottom of what they are. They can be considered a cake, a cookie or a pie. How awesome is that!?! Traditionally they are made with 2 small round mounds of chocolate cake that are then filled with frosting or a filling made with marshmallow creme or fluff. These I’m sharing with you today are filled with a dulce de leche filling… Double YUM!
The cake part is made with a Devil’s food box cake mix (I used Pillsbury) and the filling is made with canned dulce de leche. I normally find it in the Hispanic food aisle in my supermarket. If you can’t find it by you, or just want to make it yourself, you can simmer a can of sweetened condensed milk. Here’s a great recipe for doing just that. It’s then mixed with cream cheese, butter and some other ingredients to make it the perfect consistency to pipe onto the chocolate cakes.
Chocolate Whoopie Pies with a Dulce De Leche Filling
1 box of Devil’s food cake mix
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
1/2 cup water
3 large eggs
1/2 cup dulce de leche
4 ounces cream cheese, at room temperature
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 cups confectioners’ sugar
Combine the cake mix, butter, water and eggs in a large bowl and beat at medium speed until smooth. Let the batter rest for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 400 F and line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Using a cookie scoop, drop the batter onto the parchment line baking sheet and bake for 5 to 7 minutes. Until a cake tester inserted in the middle comes out clean. Cool completely on a wire rack.
In another large bowl beat the cream cheese and unsalted butter on medium speed until creamy. Reduce the speed to low and gradually add in the confectioners’ sugar and beat until well combined. Add the dulce de leche, vanilla extract and salt and beat until well combined.
Pipe or spread the filling onto half of the cookies, place the second cookie on top.
Recipe adapted from Land O Lakes