Posts Tagged ‘Italian’

Homemade Italian Bread & Garlic Bread

Did anyone happen to watch the OSU-Michigan and Alabama-Auburn games this weekend? Talk about intense! Rivalry games are always exciting but those two games kept me on the edge of my seat the entire time. Not only did we just barely hold off Michigan to win in the last minute, but Auburn took over Alabama with only 1 second! Guess who’s ranked #2 in the country now!? I’ll give you a hint – I am currently investigating tickets for the National Championship Game. Eeee!!! I am trying not to get ahead of myself as we still have to tackle Michigan State for the Conference Championship this weekend. Excited!! But I digress…

I rarely whip up homemade bread products but lately I’m a human bread machine. Outside of the normal occurrence of pizza dough, in the past few weeks I’ve made gluten-free corn bread muffins, peanut butter cinnamon rolls, Greek yogurt-rosemary rolls, and cranberry-walnut oat bread. Continuing this trend I made a loaf of Italian bread and even braided it so it looked fancy, then took it a step further and made garlic bread out of it. With a little bit of pesto mixed into the garlic mixture, it was as good as it gets. I failed to take a picture of the finished masterpiece, but trust you know what garlic bread looks like!

Homemade Italian Bread

One year ago: White Chocolate Cranberry Shortbread Cookies

Two years ago: Cauliflower Pizza Crust

Three years ago: Homemade Applesauce
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Lighter Chicken Parmesan

When people find out how much I pay for my gym membership at Life Time Fitness, they gawk. To make it worse, my fee is going up an additional $2 starting November 1st (totaling $64/month). Yes I know it’s expensive, that my apartment has a basic gym, that I have workout DVDs at home, and that I could have internet or cable at home instead of paying for a gym membership – but I think it’s worth it.

I go to at least 3-4 group fitness classes a week which obviously my apartment gym does not have, it’s open 24/7, never has a wait for cardio or weight equipment, has a fantastic cafe which is surprisingly inexpensive, and it just makes me happy which is obviously important (not to mention the water slides!!).

Sure I could have internet at home, but after working out, showering, cooking dinner, and doing whatever else I need to do, I don’t have much time to even notice I don’t have internet. Even less for cable. And I’m not even going to get into my lacking desire for a smart phone -  at least not today.

Besides, I have to work off all the food I cook for this blog somehow!

P.S. I served this with easy garlic knots and crispy gnocchi (coming tomorrow).

Lighter Chicken Parmesan

One year ago: Chicken Gnocchi Soup

Two years ago: Apple Butter Granola
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Baked Quinoa Chicken Parmesan

Finally decided to get a z-pack in order to fend away this lingering sinusitis that I’ve been battling, but it hasn’t seemed to greatly increase my recovery rate. I may be wrong, but I feel as though the improvements this far are merely my own body’s accomplishments. Guess that means it could be viral, but either way it’s been a week and I’m tired of having stopped up nose and ears. So with that, let’s talk about some healthy comfort food.

If you haven’t tried quinoa yet, this this is a great place to start. As someone who has played around with quinoa a bunch, this was by far my favorite recipe using quinoa. It’s a healthier version of Chicken Parm! I’m almost mad at myself for not trying it sooner, especially after Tracey raved about it. I did note that she mentioned missing the breading on the chicken in the recipe she posted, so I decided to bread my chicken up! Obviously I do not know what it would’ve been like without it, but was very pleased with the results.

Baked Quinoa Chicken Parmesan

Two years ago: White Bean Chicken Chili
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Oatmeal Meatballs with Spinach

I didn’t realize until posting this recipe that I accidentally doubled the turkey from the original recipe. I wondered why my meatballs seemed a little large! Oh well, they are still good for you – packed with spinach, oats, and yogurt. If you want the ratio of healthiness per bite to be higher then use 1/2 lb turkey (but of course it will serve less people).

They are not the most photogenic meatballs, but they are super moist and full of flavor. I also enjoyed the chunkier style of the sauce as a change from the pureed pasta sauce. Even though I’m typically not a fan of chunky sauce, it was perfect for this dish. And this is a one-pot meal! Hooray for less dishes to wash!

OATMEAL MEATBALLS WITH SPINACH

Makes 16 large meatballs (Serves 6-8)

Ingredients:

1/2 cup instant oats

1/4 cup nonfat plain yogurt

1/2 cup packed baby spinach, thinly sliced

1/4 cup packed basil, chopped, plus 1 sprig

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1 egg white

3 cloves garlic, finely chopped, divided

1 tsp salt

1/2 tsp black pepper

1 lb all-white-meat ground turkey

Olive oil cooking spray

1 can (26 oz) diced tomatoes, plus juice

1/2 cup dry white wine

1-13.25 oz box whole-wheat pasta, cooked according to the package instructions (I used penne)

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Mix oats and yogurt with 1/4 cup water in a bowl until oats begin to absorb liquid. Add spinach, basil, Parmesan, egg white, half the garlic, salt and pepper, and stir. Add turkey and mix until well combined. Form into 16 large meatballs.
  2. Coat a large, oven-safe stockpot with cooking spray. Add meatballs and bake until they begin to brown, 10 to 15 minutes. Turn and bake 10 minutes more. Add remaining garlic, basil sprig, tomatoes and wine. Cover and cook until meatballs are cooked through and sauce begins to thicken, 20 minutes. Serve immediately with pasta.

Source: Slightly adapted from SELF Magazine

Baked Mini Bowties

A quick meat sauce and some pasta was one of two meals I ate frequently during undergrad (the other was stir fry). I loved it because not only was it quick and needed few ingredients, but it made plenty of leftovers for subsequent lunches and dinners. Somehow I have less free time the past four years of graduate school, yet I cook many more things that take much more time than before. Go figure.

This dish I found from Kristin from Iowa Girl Eats, inspired by Sbarro. To me it is a pumped up version of the simple meat sauce and pasta. Now it has cheese and is baked! Even though this only takes 20 minutes longer (because of baking time), I wanted to eat my arm by the time it was done. But I had just been at spin class for 1.5 hours and food was the only thing I could think about. This may come as a surprise but this was much more satisfying than my arm could’ve ever been. And I made it with piccolini farfalle! They are just too darn cute to not enjoy.

BAKED MINI BOWTIES

Serves 8

Ingredients:

16 oz. (1 box) piccolini farfalle (mini bowtie) pasta

3/4 lb. 90/10 ground beef

Garlic salt

Pepper

1 cup shredded and 1 cup sliced* fresh Mozzarella cheese, divided

1 cup shredded Parmesan cheese, divided

1 jar marinara sauce

Fresh parsley

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Cook pasta in boiling, salted water until just under al dente (it will continue to cook in the oven.) Drain and return to the pot.
  2. Meanwhile, season ground beef with garlic salt & pepper and brown in a pan over medium-high heat. Drain and add to the pasta.
  3. Add 1 cup shredded Mozzarella, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, and marinara sauce to the pasta and beef. Mix to combine.
  4. Pour into a non-stick sprayed 9×13″ pan and top with sliced Mozzarella and remaining Parmesan.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top. Sprinkle with parsley.

*You can use all shredded Mozzarella, I just thought it looked pretty to have globs of melted Mozzarella on top.

Source:  Iowa Girl Eats

Eggplant Stuffed Shells

I fell in love with the eggplant burgers I made last week. So much in love that I wanted to try stuffing them into pasta and covering them in sauce. And that’s exactly what I did. Changed a few little things in the eggplant to go along with the Italian flavors, and then sauced it up with not one but TWO sauces. You will have leftover marinara sauce, but I assure you it will not go to waste.

And these stuffed morsels? I was at a loss for words after the first bite. It may take a but of time, but good grief was is more than worth it! Make it. Now. I promise you will fall in love – again.

Ingredients:

MARINARA SAUCE

1/4 cup yellow onion, diced

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 can whole tomatoes

2 Tbsp olive oil

1 Tbsp fresh thyme

1 tsp dried oregano

1 tsp paprika

4 oz mascarpone cheese

2 Tbsp fresh basil, chopped

2 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped

EGGPLANT & SHELLS

20 jumbo pasta shells, cooked

2 large eggplants, peeled and cubed

1/4 cup yellow onion, diced

3 cloves garlic, minced

1/3 cup fresh parsley, chopped, plus more for garnish

1 cup shredded Mozzarella

1 cup plain bread crumbs

1/2 tsp cayenne pepper

Pinch of salt and black pepper

Parmigiano-Reggiano, for garnish

BECHAMEL SAUCE

2 Tbsp unsalted butter

4 tsp all-purpose flour

1 cup heavy cream, at room temperature

1/4 cup milk, at room temperature

1/2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp pepper

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees, and lightly grease a 9 x 13 baking pan.
  2. First, make the marinara sauce. In a sauce pan, heat the olive oil and cook the onions for 4-5 minutes, add the garlic and roast for another 2-3 minutes. Pour in the can of tomatoes and remaining ingredients. Bring to a boil then reduce heat to a simmer and simmer for 30 minutes.
  3. Using an immersion blender (or transfer to a blender), puree until you reach a desired consistency. Turn heat to low and cover until ready to assemble the shells.
  4. For the eggplant, heat a tablepsoon of oil over medium-low in a large pan and cook the cubed eggplant down to a mushy mass, stirring occasionally for approximately 25 minutes. Remove it from the pan and put it in a large bowl.
  5. In the same pan, lightly sauté the onion and garlic for 2 minutes. Add to the bowl of cooked eggplant.
  6. Stir in the parsley, Mozzarella, bread crumbs, and seasonings into the eggplant mixture. Get in there with your hands and mix it up. Set in the fridge for 20-30 minutes to chill.
  7. Meanwhile, prepare the bechamel sauce. Melt the butter in a non-stick sauce pan and slowly add the flour a teaspoon at a time, whisking until well blended (about 3 minutes). Next, whisk in the cream and milk and increase the heat to high until the sauce begins to simmer. Season with salt, pepper and nutmeg- cook for another 3 minute then turn heat to low and allow to sit until time to assemble the stuffed shells.
  8. Pour the bechamel sauce into the prepared pan and spread evenly. Scoop a few tablespoons of eggplant filling inside each cooked shell. Place each pasta shell in the sauce, seam up. Dollop a spoonful of the marinara sauce over each shell. Cover the dish with foil and bake it for 30 minutes, then remove the foil and bake it for a final 15 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and grated Parmigiano-Reggiano, if desired, and serve immediately.

Source: Stuffing adapted from Eggplant Veggie Burgers. Sauces adapted from Kitchen Belleicious.

Italian Herb & Cheese Fettucine

Leah and I made this last night to kick off our Harry Potter movie marathon, in preparation for the final movie coming out next week. You better believe we are going to the midnight showing! Unfortunately, the four others we convinced to start the marathon with us last night (4 who have never watched any of the movies, let alone read the books – blasphemy I say) will probably not be joining us for the duration. Advantage of reading the books as they came out (totally waiting in line more than once at midnight for it) and then watching the movies right as they hit the screen, I suppose. Somehow this meal wasn’t enough to convince them to come back for more.

This was the second time I’ve played with the Philadelphia cooking creme, and I continue to love it. I really need to try the other blends, because it makes for fun and quick meals. This dish in particular was almost a little too spicy for Leah, but I not only got seconds but thirds. And the not-so-much-Harry Potter fans found something else to be a fan of. In other words it was just marvelous… darling.

Oh, and this is completely unrelated but if I had a bunch of money lying around, I would buy these shoes in a heart beat. Size 7, mk thanks O:-).

Ingredients:

1 lb fettuccine noodles (used Ronzoni’s Garden Delight)

1 Tbsp olive oil

1 lb hot Italian turkey sausage, sliced thin

16 oz package frozen vegetable medley (used broccoli, cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, and yellow squash)

1 tub (10 0z) Philadelphia Italian Herb and Cheese Blend Cooking Creme

1/2 cup – 1 cup reserved pasta cooking water

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish

1 tsp red pepper flakes, plus more for garnish

Directions:

  1. Cook noodles according to directions. reserve pasta water.
  2. Heat large skillet over medium high heat with olive oil. Brown sausages for about 7 minutes. Add frozen vegetables, cover and let cook for about 5 minutes, until vegetables have thawed out. Add cooking creme and noodles to skillet and stir together. Add reserved pasta water, one ladle at at a time, until sauce is to your desired consistency. Stir in Parmesan cheese and red pepper flakes. Serve immediately with more Parmesan and red pepper flakes as garnish.

Source: PB & Kelly

Chicken Parmesan Quesadillas

Ever since I heard about the Philadelphia Cooking Cream, I’ve wanted to try it out. )I love cooking with cream cheese, in case you hadn’t noticed.) Since I had a coupon for it during my last trip to the grocery, I decided to pick it up finally. But then I had to figure out what to make with it. I decided to start small so I could use it in more than one dish. After seeing the original recipe by Tanya at Sunday Baker I knew the cooking cream had to go in there. After all, what’s better than Italian or Mexican food? Fusing them together to create Chicken Parmesan in a tortilla! It’s so easy to make and incredibly satisfying.

 

Ingredients:

4-8″ whole wheat tortillas

1 clove minced garlic

2 Tbsp Philadelphia Cooking Cream, Italian Cheese & Herb

1 cup cooked, shredded chicken breast

2 Tbsp finely chopped frozen spinach, thawed (or fresh)

1/4 cup shredded Mozzeralla

1/8 cup shredded Parmesan

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/2 cup marinara sauce

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread 1/2 Tbsp of the cooking cream on the top of two tortillas. Sprinkle each with the minced garlic. Top with the chicken, spinach and cheese. Spread the remaining cooking cream on the bottom of the other two tortillas and sandwich together with the topped tortillas.
  2. Place quesadillas on a large ungreased baking sheet. Brush olive oil and sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top for extra taste.
  3. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until the tortilla is crispy golden and the cheese is melted. Serve with a side of warm marinara dipping sauce.

Source: Adapted from Sunday Baker

Homemade Whole Wheat Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Tomato-Pancetta Butter

A couple years ago, a group of friends and I went to a hands-on Viking Cooking School one-night class. It had to be one of the best meals I’ve ever had, but I may have been biased due to the complimentary wine they kept pouring in my glass while we cooked. This is everything we made/ate:

  • Marinated Roasted Red Peppers and Olives
  • Homemade Spinach and Ricotta Ravioli with Tomato-Pancetta Butter
  • Veal Scaloppini with Prosciutto and Sage (Saltimbocca alla Romana)
  • Chocolate Gelato with Cherries rolled in Bittersweet Chocolate (Tartufo)
  • Sparkling Wine with Fresh Strawberry Puree (Rossinis)

Seriously, we ate all of that and I should’ve been rolled home.

Thankfully we were provided with all the recipes, because I have remade several of them already for various occasions or just for dinner again. Unfortunately, I had never fully recreated the ravioli (until now) because I lacked the tools necessary to do so. (I’ve been using frozen pre-made ravioli instead and just making the Tomato-Pancetta butter – which I welcome you to try if making homemade pasta isn’t up your alley.)

But guess what? I own the Kitchenaid Stand Mixer Pasta Roller attachments now! Hooray!! So I decided to make these lovely things, but attempted them in whole wheat. Unfortunately the texture wasn’t quite right, but the saving grace is that they still tasted wonderful. I’m not sure anything stuffed with ricotta, Romano and spinach, covered in butter, sun-dried tomatoes and pancetta could ever be unpleasant.

If you’re lucky I may make more of the others recipes from that night and post them soon ;-).

PASTA DOUGH

Ingredients:

3 eggs, beaten

1 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

2 cups whole wheat flour, plus extra for rolling dough (or all-purpose for the original recipe)

1 tsp kosher salt

Directions:

  1. In the work bowl of a food processor, pulse the eggs and oil to combine. In a small bowl, stir together the flour and salt. While the machine is running, add the flour mixture through the feed tube. Process until the mixture holds together and forms a ball. (Note: If the dough is too dry, add a few drops of warm water and process briefly. If the dough is too sticky, remove it from the processor and knead it with just enough flour to make it smooth and elastic.)
  2. Remove the dough from the work bowl and cover with plastic wrap; let rest for 20-30 minutes at room temperature.
  3. Cut the pasta dough into fourths. Wrap three of the pieces in plastic wrap, then set aside until needed. Flatten the remaining piece into a rectangle, approximately the same width as the pasta machine rollers. Adjust the pasta machine rollers to their widest setting.
  4. Roll the rectangle of pasta through the rollers one time. Then, fold the rectangle into thirds and feed it through the rollers 6-8 more times, folding the dough into thirds each time. Dust lightly with flour, if necessary, to keep it from sticking. Tighten the rollers of the pastas machine one notch, and feed the dough through the rollers without folding. Continue to feed the dough through the rollers without folding, tightening the rollers one notch each time, until the pasta is the desired thickness.
  5. Repeat the rolling process with the remaining three pieces of dough. Allow the pasta sheets to dry for 5 minutes before filling.

RAVIOLI FILLING

Ingredients:

2 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil

3 cloves garlic, minced

1-10 oz. bag spinach, tough stems removed

Salt and black pepper, to taste

7.5 oz. ricotta cheese

1 egg, lightly beaten

1/2 cup grated Pecorino Romano

1 pinch nutmeg

Directions:

Heat a large saute pan over medium heat; add the oil and heat through. Add the garlic and cook until it just begins to sizzle, about 15-20 seconds. Then, add the spinach in large handfuls, stirring to wilt before adding more. Cook until wilted but still bright green, about 3 minutes; season generously with salt and pepper. Transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet to cool completely.

When cool enough to handle, finely chop the spinach. Place the chopped spinach in the center of a large, square, dampened piece of cheesecloth folded double. Draw up the sides to form a pouch, then twist and squeeze to extract the excess moisture; transfer the chopped spinach to a medium bowl.

Stir in the ricotta cheese, egg, Pecorino Romano and nutmeg; mix well. Season to taste with salt and pepper, the set aside until needed.

Using a ravioli form, lightly coat with nonstick spray and lay a sheet of pasta over it. Place the top of the form on the pasta sheet, pressing gently to make impressions for the filling. Remove the top of the form, and place 1 tablespoon of filling in each impression. Lightly moisten the border of the pasta sheet and in between the filling with water, using a pastry brush. Cover the filled impressions with a second sheet of dough. use a rolling pin to roll over the top of the form to cut and separate the ravioli. Push the finished ravioli out of the form. Transfer the ravioli to a flour-dusted baking sheet or a clean kitchen towel; let dry for 5-10 minutes. (Meanwhile, prepare butter – below)

Bring 4-6 quarts of water to a boil. Add the pasta and immediately stir to separate the individual pieces. Cook the ravioli, stirring once of twice during cooking, until al dente, about 2 minutes, or until they float. Remove from the water using a slotted spoon, then transfer to paper towels or a clean kitchen cloth to drain.

TOMATO-PANCETTA BUTTER

Ingredients:

3 oz thinly sliced pancetta (3/4 cup chopped)

4 Tbsp unsalted butter, softened

4 sun-dried tomatoes packed in oil, drained and diced

1/2 tsp fresh thyme, finely chopped

Black pepper, to taste

Directions:

  1. Place the chopped pancetta in a medium saute pan over medium-high heat; cook until crisp and brown, about 3-5 minutes. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a paper towel-lined dish to drain; allow to cool to room temperature. (Meanwhile, cook the pasta – above)
  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all but 2 tablespoonfuls of the cooked pancetta with the butter, diced tomatoes and thyme. Season to taste with pepper, then set aside until needed. Reserve the remaining pancetta for garnish.
  3. Gently melt the tomato-pancetta butter. Place the cooked ravioli in a warmed serving bowl; pour the butter over the ravioli, and toss to coat. Garnish with grated Pecorino Romano, the reserved pancetta and the thyme sprigs; serve immediately.

Source: Viking Cooking School – Girl’s Night Out: In Rome

Homemade Olive Garden Salad and Dressing

Although I do not frequent the Olive Garden often at all, I do enjoy their salad. Of course that meant when I craved it the other day I had to figure out how to make it on my own. Thanks to Copykat Recipes I was able to recreate the salad and dressing without troubleshooting (yes I was lazy). And it really does taste like their salad! I may have to use the dressing on other things too now that I’ve got my hands on it.

I served this along with dinner Saturday night with a group of friends. Huge hit! One person was even tricked into liking mayonnaise, which is part of the dressing. I feel like a mom trying to think of ways to get her kids to eat vegetables, but in this case it’s a not-so-healthy item O:-).

DRESSING

Ingredients:

1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used reduced fat)

1/3 cup white vinegar

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tsp extra virgin olive oil

2 Tbsp corn syrup

2 Tbsp Parmesan, shredded

2 Tbsp Romano, shredded

1/2 tsp Italian seasoning

1/2 tsp Parsley

1 Tbsp lemon juice

1/2 Tbsp sugar (optional)

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a blender and pulse until combined. Add sugar to taste (I used 1/2 Tbsp). Place in airtight container in the refrigerator until ready to serve.

SALAD

Ingredients:

1-12 oz bag American blend salad

4-5 red onion slices

4-5 black olives, sliced (I don’t like olives so I opted out)

2-4 pepperoncini or banana peppers

1/2 cup croutons

Small tomato, chopped

Fresh shredded Parmesan, for topping

Directions:

  1. Place all ingredients in a salad bowl and toss. Top with Parmesan and serve with dressing.

Source: Copykat Recipes for both the Salad and the Dressing

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