December 2008 Posts

Baked ziti with salad and homemade dressing

The holidays are behind us and we're back into our routines of work, families and trying to get dinners on the table. (Hopefully that's not as depressing as it sounds. I will not go into the aspects of paying off Christmas bills, New Year's weight-loss resolutions and the like.)

Here to help make dinner a little easier and a lot exciting is "One Teaspoon" and its month of quick, delicious and budget-friendly meals. These three things describe one entree: pasta. Sure a jar of spaghetti sauce and a bag of noodles qualifies, but without too much more effort, you can have a nice meal.

First up is baked ziti. Double the batch and freeze some for later, or make this the night before and just pop it in the oven come dinner time. I used ground turkey, but I'm sure this would be good (and even more budget-friendly) without meat. I don't like jar marinara, but do what you have to do. As a bonus, here's a recipe for creamy Italian dressing, too, to top a nice green salad. Yum.

1 lb. dry ziti pasta
1/2 onion, chopped
1 lb. lean ground turkey
2, 26-ounce jars spaghetti sauce or homemade marinara
6 ounces provolone cheese, sliced
1 C. sour cream
1 C. mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp. Parmesan cheese, shredded
Cook ziti pasta according to package directions (al dente). In a large skillet, brown onion and ground turkey in a little olive oil over medium heat. Add spaghetti sauce and simmer.
Meanwhile, spray a 9- by 13-inch baking dish. Layer half the ziti, Provolone cheese and sour cream and some sauce. Add remaining ziti, mozarella and remaining sauce. Top with Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes, or until cheeses are melted, at 350 degrees.

Creamy Italian salad dressing
3/4 C. light mayo
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. water
1 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
1/2 tsp. dried oregano
1 Tbsp. minced garlic
Combine ingredients, stir until mixed well. Chill before serving.

Christmas breakfast

Ahhh, Christmas morning. Once the gifts have been opened and the stockings have been unstuffed, what's left to keep us on that holiday high? Breakfast, of course.

Here is a nice variety of recipes -- all completely dependent on what kind of meal you want. Bacon and eggs? Add banana crumb muffins. Sausage and grits? Why not serve sticky buns, too. Looking for entrees? How about warm apple and egg casserole or blueberry stuffed french toast.

Batters can be prepared the night before, so you just assemble and bake in the morning. A word of caution, the crumb topping on the banana crumb muffins don't store well in sealed containers (get a little melted), so keep that in mind.

Otherwise, deeee-lish and Merry Christmas morning.

Banana Crumb Muffins
1 1/2 C. flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. salt
3 ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 C. white sugar
1 egg
1/3 C. butter, melted
1/3 C. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. flour
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1 1/2 Tbsp. butter
Beat together bananas, sugar, egg and melted butter. Mix in dry ingredients, stirring just until moistened. (Batter will be a little lumpy). Spoon into about a dozen paper-lined muffin cups. In a small bowl, mix crumble topping ingredients, leaving chunks. Even distribute topping on muffin batter. Bake at 375 degrees for 15 - 18 minutes, or until a toothpick comes out clean.

Apple Pannekuechen
1 1/2 C. milk
1 stick butter
1 1/2 C. flour
6 eggs
1 can apple pie filling

Melt butter in a 9- by 13-inch pan. Mix milk, flour and eggs until smooth and pour into pan. Spoon apple filling on top. Bake at 400 degrees for 30 minutes. Serve topped with fresh fruit (thin apple slices or peaches) sprinkled with cinnamon and sugar. Add a dollop of whip cream for a special touch.

Blueberry-stuffed French toast
1 loaf fresh French bread
2, 8-ounces cream cheese
1 C. blueberries
10 eggs
1/3 C. maple syrup
2 C, skim milk
1 C. sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1 C. water
1 C. blueberries
1 Tbsp. butter

Cube bread and cream cheese into one-inch pieces. Arrange half the bread in a 13- by 9-inch baking dish. Scatter cream cheese and berries on top, then cover with remaining bread chunks. In a large bowl, beat eggs, syrup and milk. Pour mixture over bread; cover and chill several hours or overnight. Bake covered at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, then another 30 minutes uncovered.
Sauce: Cook sugar, cornstarch and water for 5 minutes over medium heat. Stir in berries and simmer for 10 minutes. Add butter. Cook until melted. Serve with drizzled on top French toast.

Sticky sweet buns
1 stick unsalted butter
1 banana
walnuts, chopped
brown sugar
1 tube refrigerated biscuit dough

Place a slice of butter in the bottom of 10 compartments of your muffin tin. Add a heaping spoonful of brown sugar, some nuts and one banana slice. Place one biscuit dough piece on top. Bake about 10 minutes at 350 degrees. Meanwhile, microwave remaining butter with another spoonful or two of brown sugar. When mixture is syrupy, add remaining banana (chopped in little bits). Remove buns from oven; pour syrup over the baked topping side and serve.

Par-tay!! Appetizers for holiday parties

'Tis the season, so here are appetizers that are sure to impress. Some are new, some are tried and true -- all are quick and easy. In fact, you could whip them all up for a nice variety for your next get together. Stuffed mushrooms, pesto dips, cookies, snack mix -- all the best stuff is right here. Make in advance; a few require being served warm.

Crab stuffed mushrooms
1 - 1 1/2 pounds fresh mushrooms
7 oz. canned crab meat
3 green onions, finely chopped
1/4 tsp. dried thyme
1/4 tsp. oregano
1/4 tsp. ground savory
1/3 C. mayo
1/4 C. grated Parmesan cheese
a little paprika
Combine all ingredients (except mushrooms) in a bowl; mix well. Pluck steams and their bases from clean mushrooms; push out remaining mushroom gills to create a small cavity for the filling. Fill mushrooms, allowing mixture to be rounded out of the tops. Sprinkle a dash of paprika on each and a little more grated Parmesan, if desired. Bake in a lightly greased baking dish at 350 degrees for 15 minutes. Serve warm.

Wreath hors d'oeuvres
2, 8-ounce packages cream cheese (reduced fat or fat free)
4 ounce jar pesto sauce (not tomato based)
2 dozen cherry tomatoes
In a small, shallow baking dish, spread cream cheese evenly. Pour pesto sauce on top and cover with cherry tomato halves (sliced side down). Bake at 200-250 degrees just until warm - don't actually cook the dip. Serve warm or cold with crackers or baguette. Dip can be refrigerated and re-warmed.

Cranberry pistachio cookies
1 C. butter, softened
1 C. white sugar
1/2 C. brown sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. grated orange zest
2 Tbsp. orange juice
2 1/2 C. flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
2 C. dried cranberries or dried cherries
1/2 C. chopped pistachios
Icing drizzle:
1/2 tsp. grated orange zest
2 Tbsp. orange juice
1 1/2 C. powdered sugar
Cream butter and sugars. Add egg. Mix in orange zest and orange juice. Combine remaining dry ingredients and add to orange mixture. Mix in cranberries and nuts. Drop rounded tablespoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake for 10 to 12 minutes at 375 degrees. Once cooled, drizzle with icing.

Kris Kringle Krunch mix
½ box Golden Grahams cereal
½ box Corn Chex cereal
1 C. cashews
1C. peanuts
1 C. almonds
¾ C. butter
1 C. Karo syrup
1 C. sugar
Mix cereal and nuts in a large bowl; set aside. Combine and boil: butter, Karo syrup and sugar; pour over cereal mixture and coat well. Spread on wax paper to cool; store in air-tight containers.

Chutney Baked Brie
1 medium to large wheel of Brie cheese
ground curry
1, 10-ounce jar chutney or mango preserves
chopped cashews
baguette, crackers, etc.
Place Brie wheel in baking dish. Rub curry powder into the top and sides of the cheese rind. Top with jar of chutney/preserves, allowing some to seep over the sides. Add desired amount of cashew pieces on top. Bake at 325 degrees for 15 minutes.


Experiments in Cookology by Brye Butler

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