Category Archives: mozzarella cheese

Lightened Up Lasagna Soup

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TGIF!! It has been a long week here. Well, a long couple of weeks actually. This flu that is flooding the country found it’s way to my house and,even though I had the shot, I got hit hard by it. Kevin on the other hand, who didn’t get the shot, was fine. Although there was quite a bit of hand washing, Purell usage, and banishment to the sofa for a few days. It’s OK, I was as comfy as I could be considering the circumstances. A trip to the ER, IV fluids, and Tamiflu helped me to kick the worst of it. But the residual cough is a killer. My heart and prayers go out to everyone that has/is suffering from this! 
Now, on to the good stuff, the food! I was so happy when I was able to (and had the desire to) cook again. It seemed strange to be back in my little kitchen after so long away. But cooking is like riding a bike right? So I jumped back on and peddled away.
I had been eyeing a recipe by Paula Deen for Lasagna soup before my desire to eat anything more than jello and popsicles kicked in. So that was the first thing I wanted to make when I felt better. However, and I do so love Ms Paula, it was packed full of fat and calories! So I tackled the challenge of trying to remove a bit of both from the recipe. 
I am so very happy to announce that even though the fat and calories were reduced, the flavor was not. This is some seriously good soup guys! Even Mr “Soup is not a meal” raved about it and ended up finishing his bowl and part of mine. He was also very happy to package the leftovers in a freezer bag for a future meal. I was, as you cam imagine, very pleasantly surprised! 
I myself referred to this soup as a little bit of heaven in a bowl, so you know how I felt about it. Seriously though, give this soup a try, you will not regret it I promise!!
Lightened Up Lasagna Soup

2 teaspoons olive oil
1 pound Italian turkey sausage
1 onion, chopped
1 red bell pepper, chopped
3 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups chicken stock
1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
1 (14 1/2-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper (I used 1 teaspoon)
6 broken whole wheat lasagna noodles
1/2 cup chopped fresh basil, packed
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup reduced-fat shredded mozzarella cheese, plus some for sprinkling

Heat the oil over medium-high heat in a large sauce pot  Add the sausage, onion, bell pepper, and garlic. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally, until the sausage is crumbled and browned, approx 8 to 10 minutes.

Add the chicken stock, tomato sauce, diced tomatoes, salt, and crushed red pepper. Bring the soup to a boil then reduce the heat and simmer for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the noodles, bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer, uncovered, stirring occasionally, until the noodles are tender, 10 to 12 minutes. Remove from the heat; stir in mozzarella, basil, and the Parmesan. Ladle into soup bowls, sprinkle with a little extra mozzarella cheese if wanted.

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Baked Spaghetti

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I know this isn’t the prettiest dish I have presented to you, but it sure was a tasty one! I had no plans whatsoever to make this dish. It came about because I have been trying to be a good girl and use up all of my leftovers. I had marinara sauce left over from making the Caprese Meatball Subs, and the Pizza Balls, and I wanted to use it up. So into my fridge I went, digging for some ingredients to cook up a meal that Kevin would enjoy. Out I came with Italian sausage, mozzarella cheese, and Parmesan cheese. I knew I could do something with that.
I had heard of baked spaghetti before but had never tried it. I do however love pasta carbonara and I figured I would go along those lines to try my spaghetti baking experiment errr experience. I wish there had been some parsley in my fridge, but it came out really good without it.

Again, I think Kevin was a bit skeptical when I told him what we were having. I think it was kind of like;
Kevin – What’s for dinner?
Me – Baked Spaghetti.
Kevin – What?
Me – Baked Spaghetti!
Kevin – What in the heck is that?
Me – It is spaghetti mixed with lots of ingredients and baked in an oven *annoyed look*
Kevin – Smart a……
Of course, as usual, he had to eat his words (pardon the pun) because he really liked it. In fact he liked it so much he took it to work the next day for lunch and took some extra so his boss could have some too. I love it when that happens!!
If you want to make this recipe a bit quicker you could use jarred marinara sauce, but my recipe is so easy and I just love the fresh flavor better. Either way though, I hope you give it a try!!
Baked Spaghetti
16 ounces (1 package) spaghetti noodles
1 pound Italian sausage
1 onion, chopped
4 cups Marinara Sauce (see recipe below)
2 large eggs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for sprinkling
4 tablespoons butter, melted
1 ball of fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced
For the Marinara Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (Recommended San Marzano)
2 6 ounce cans of tomatoes paste
1 cup water
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Mix in half of the minced garlic and cook one more minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomatoes paste, water, half of the chopped oregano, and the bay leaf. (Add more water if sauce seems too thick). Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer. Leftovers can be frozen if needed.

Meanwhile cook the spaghetti per package directions. 

Crumble Italian sausage into a large skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until no pink remains. Drain fat if needed. Stir in Marinara sauce and season with salt and pepper to taste. Set aside.

In a large bowl whisk the eggs, Parmesan cheese, and butter together. Drain spaghetti and toss with the egg mixture. Spray the bottom of a 9 x 13 casserole dish with  non stick spray. Place the spaghetti in the casserole dish. Top with meat sauce and sliced mozzarella. Cover with foil and bake for 25 minutes. Remove foil and cook an additional 5 minutes or until cheese gets bubbly.

ENJOY

Shared at The Lady 8 Home

Pizza Balls

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This is another one of those recipes I saw on Pintrest and just felt like I had to put my own spin on it. Actually my daughter found it. She lives in California now so we both have boards on our Pintrest accounts for each other. If we find something we think the other one would like we pin it to those boards. It is kind of like a Pintrest Christmas. You open it up and SURPRISE look what I found for you!
So I took a look at this and thought it sounded like a good idea, I just wanted to change it up. I have told you all I am not a baker by any means, but I have had really great luck with my pizza dough so anytime I get a chance to make it I jump. The original recipe called for refrigerator biscuits and, although it is much simpler to do it that way, I though pizza dough would taste so much better. I mean garlic pizza dough vs biscuit dough? In my mind there was no question. 
Then the original had no sauce in it. You dipped the finished rolls in sauce, but there wasn’t any inside. I had just made a huge batch of homemade marinara sauce so I figured I would give that a try. If you don’t want to make the sauce you could use jarred pizza sauce, but I will say that the marinara is super easy, it tastes better, and you can make a big batch and freeze it for another day like I did.
Another thing I switched was the meat. They used two pieces of pepperoni but Kevin is a sausage lover. I actually wish I had put a slice of mush room inside as well, but the sausage was really good. I switched the cheddar jack cheese for fresh mozzarella. I just love fresh mozzarella and use it when ever I can. 
Kevin wasn’t home to take pictures of the dough making or cutting process, but that is pretty straight forward. But I can show you the process of constructing the balls.
After you cut the dough (I used a large mouth glass but if you have a bigger biscuit cutter it would work well)
Spread it out with your fingers a bit.
Add a small dollop of the sauce.
Place a bit of sausage in the middle. I used a quartered slice of link sausage but a scoop of bulk sausage would work as well.
A little chunk of fresh mozzarella.

And started to fold it over into a ball. One side..
Two sides….
Three sides…
A ball…TADA!
Pinch it’s little bottom and then place it pinched side down in a baking dish sprayed with non stick spray. Bush tops with melted butter and then sprinkle with a bit of garlic powder and dried basil.
Someone is patiently waiting for his Pizza Ball…who said he was getting one? I don’t know.

I made a half batch so that is why the dish isn’t full, but don’t they look pretty all toasty and golden brown out of the oven?

Add a bit of the warmed up marinara sauce on the side for dipping and you have got yourself some seriously good balls!

Pizza Balls
Adapted from recipe found at Riches to Rags
2 links of Italian sausage, or 1/2 pound bulk sausage, cooked
4-ounces of fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into cubes
Marinara sauce (see recipe below), or jarred pizza sauce
Garlic pizza dough (see recipe below)
2 tablespoons butter, melted
Garlic powder, for sprinkling
Dried basil, for sprinkling
For the Pizza Dough:
1 1/8 cup warm water
3 teaspoons active dry yeast
1 1/2 tablespoons honey
1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon salt
2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon dried basil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 tablespoon Parmesan cheese

In a large bowl, combine water, yeast, honey and olive oil. Mix with a spoon, then let sit until foamy, about 10 minutes. Add in 2 1/2 cups flour, salt, 1 teaspoon garlic powder and dried basil, stirring with a spoon until the dough comes together but it still sticky. Using your hands, form the dough into a ball and work the additional 1/2 cup flour (you don’t need to use all if it is not needed) in to the dough, kneading it on a floured surface for a few minutes. Rub the same bowl with olive oil then place the dough inside, turning to coat. Cover with a towel and place in a warm place to rise for about 1 1/2 hours.

After the dough has risen, punch it down and place it back on the floured surface. Using a roll pin or your hands, cut into desired size discs. Place the towel back over the dough and let sit in the warm place for 10 minutes. 
For the Marinara Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (Recommended San Marzano)
2 6 ounce cans of tomatoes paste
1 cup water
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper
Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.

Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Mix in the minced garlic and cook one more minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomatoes paste, water, chopped oregano, and the bay leaf. (Add more water if sauce seems too thick). Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer.


Form pizza balls as per pictures above and bake at 425 for 18 to 20 minutes, or until golden brown on top.
ENJOY!!





Pesto and Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breasts

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So I am still getting used to the new place. Electric stove, small oven, dishwasher that is too close to the oven door. Yes my friends, to open my dishwasher I have to open my oven door first or the handles bang into each other. Nice placement planning right? But Kevin says the house has “character”, which it does, I just miss my big kitchen with a gas stove *sigh* I know you all will probably get tired of hearing me say that but I can’t help it, I am a whiner at times. Especially when it comes to anything that has to do with my cooking. Kevin would tell me to suck it up but nope, not gonna do it. 
OK so off my pity party and on to the food. This meal came out so good. I was nervous *insert previous kitchen whine here* but with Kevin’s help (he has always cooked on electric until I came into his life) he was able to calm my fears and I got this and the side dish done, on the table, and not burned, YAY!!!
I first got this idea from a pin that my daughter shared with me (Oh boy I love Pintrest!). I like to find recipes that I am drawn to but have a different way I want to go with. You can find the recipe I based this off of at Kaylyn’s Kitchen. I knew I had chicken breasts and some of my homemade pesto in the freezer, and fresh mozzarella (there is no cheese better than fresh mozzarella for cooking) in the fridge. I always have seasoned bread crumbs and grated Parmesan cheese, so this meal was a done deal before it even started!

Yes, the ingredient list was ready to go but not so much the cook. I am still looking for things since the move. I know I packed my meat mallet but for the life of me I couldn’t  find it? Oh I have no doubt I will find it now. A) because I don’t need it now, B) because I just bought a new one. Remember the whole can opener fiasco? Ya well I am pretty sure this will go the same way. It will give Kevin another thing to tease me about, which he seems to live for lately now that I am the only one to pick on (why did I want the kids to move out again?), so I know the bullet is locked and loaded and he is waiting for the kill shot *sigh* I will admit I do kinda deserve it a little bit. Not for being forgetful, he has been with me for almost 5 years so he knows to expect that, but I seriously scared the crap out of him when I started prepping this dish. 
Let me set the scene for you…Kevin is sitting at the table going through paper work oblivious to my muttering in the kitchen and rummaging in the pantry. I probably spent 10 or 15 minutes just digging through things and talking to myself “Did I leave the meat mallet behind somehow?” “No I couldn’t have done that, it is here somewhere” “Well where the heck is it them?!”. Then I remembered watching a Rachael Ray episode where she didn’t use a meat mallet, she used a heavy bottomed skillet. BING (that’s my light bulb moment for those of you that don’t know), I have a heavy bottomed skillet, yessssss! So I grabbed a gallon size ziplock baggie and dug out my skillet. I got the breast positioned in it perfectly and carefully laid it on my cutting board….(do you see where we are going here?) I raised the skillet up high and brought it down on the chicken breast WHACK! I think Kevin jumped from one side of the kitchen table and landed in the opposite side’s chair. 
Kevin – Eyes huge he looks at me and very ummm emphatically says, “WHAT THE *insert your favorite expletive* ARE YOU DOING???” 
Me – “Uummm flattening the chicken”
Kevin – “With what a baseball bat??”
Me – “No *holding up skillet* just this” 
Kevin – “Geez you could have warned me Bobbi”
Me – “Oops….sorry” 
Ya sometimes my gift of gab disappears and I am left with nothing. Although I did warn him that I would be doing it again (and again and again). He went back to his paper work and I beat the poor chicken breasts into oblivion. Every now and then I would hear a grumble from the table, but it worked out fine. On a positive note he does know now I can wield a mean skillet now!!
I am still trying to find the right place to take pictures in the new place and with it getting dark by about 5:30 PM here outside photo’s are not an option, so sorry for the poor picture quality. At least you can see the pesto and cheese oozing out and if that doesn’t tickle your taste buds I don’t know what will!!
Pesto and Mozzarella Stuffed Chicken Breasts
Serves 2
2 good sized chicken breasts
Kosher salt
racked black pepper
1/4 to 1/2 cup pesto (can use store bought)
2 thick slices of fresh mozzarella
2 eggs
1 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F and s pray a baking dish with non stick spray. 
Place one of the chicken breasts in a zipper storage bag and using a meat mallet (or heavy skillet) pound the breast out until it is very thin. About 1/4 inch thick or so. Remove chicken breast and repeat with the second one. Lay breasts on a cutting board and spread a layer of the pesto on each one (use as little or much as your taste desires). Place a slice of the mozzarella at one end of the pesto covered breast, and begin rolling it up, tucking in loose ends as you roll. Secure with toothpicks. Repeat.
Crack eggs in a shallow dish and beat well. Place the bread crumbs and the Parmesan in another dish and combine. Roll the stuffed breast in the egg wash and then in the bread crumb mixture, make sure to coat well.
Place the breasts seam side down in the baking dish and bake in the oven for 30 minutes. Remove toothpicks.
ENJOY!!!

Caprese Meatball Subs

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Pardon the in your face picture, but I think I was trying to eat this sandwich through the camera!! I have been having a love affair with anything “caprese” lately. I adore caprese salad and even turned it into a sandwich with my Open Face Chicken Caprese Sandwich! So the other night Subway was mentioned on my Facebook page as an alternative meal due to the fact that I had a major blond moment and forgot to thaw out the meat I needed for dinner that night. Well Kevin isn’t a big fan of Subway so that didn’t go over to well (plus I really needed to cook so you all would have a post to read). Luckily Kevin agreed to go to the store for me on his way home from work and the meal crisis was avoided. Yay!! But that did give me an idea. 
One of the sandwiches I loved at Subway was their meatball sub. I wanted to make a meatball sub, but add a twist to interest Kevin. If you have been with me for a while you know that he used to despise pesto until he tried my homemade pesto. Now he loves it and I have used it in several recipes. Anyway, I remembered seeing a recipe by Kelsey Nixon for Caprese Meatballs in the slow cooker, so I decided to take that idea and use it for my sandwiches. I didn’t do mine in the slow cooker though. I baked them and finished them in my homemade marinara sauce. 

It seems that I have been coming up with some messy sandwiches in the last couple of weeks. Yes, this is messy but the flavors are so good! The mix of the pesto, marinara sauce, mozzarella cheese, and crunchy bread was over the top. I fill up pretty quickly, especially if I am eating bread, so I had half of my sandwich left and Kevin gobbled it right down. I think the only conversation I got out of him during the meal was mmmmmm and WOW this is really good. I was really glad he liked is since I pretty much made it for him!
The recipe is for 2 subs so if you are making more just double or triple it. But it makes 6 good sized meatballs which was perfect on the rolls I picked up from the bakery and with the cheese and sauce they are very filling. Plus they went really well with a nice glass of red wine!!
Caprese Meatball Subs 

1/2 pound lean ground turkey or chicken
1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs
1/4 grated Parmesan cheese, plus some for sprinkling
2 tablespoons egg beaters (or one small egg)
1/4 cup pesto (see recipe below)
1 thick slice of fresh mozzarella cheese, cut into 6 cubes
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon cracked black pepper
Marinara sauce (recipe below)
2 sub rolls


For the Pesto:
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts
  • 2 cups fresh basil leaves
  • 1 cup fresh Italian parsley leaves
  • 1/2 cup Parmesan or Romano
  • 2 garlic cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil

Toast pine nuts in a skillet over medium heat until fragrant, tossing occasionally to ensure even toasting, about 5 minutes. Combine all of the pesto ingredients, except the olive oil, in a food processor and pulse, drizzle in the olive oil slowly until well combined but still rough-textured (You may not use all of the oil or you made need a bit more to get to the desired consistency). Leftovers can be frozen if needed.

For the Marinara Sauce:
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 large cloves of garlic, minced
1 28 ounce can of crushed tomatoes (Recommended San Marzano)
2 6 ounce cans of tomatoes paste
1 cup water
1/4 cup fresh oregano leaves, chopped
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper


Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the olive oil. Add the onion and cook until translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Mix in half of the minced garlic and cook one more minute. Stir in crushed tomatoes, tomatoes paste, water, half of the chopped oregano, and the bay leaf. (Add more water if sauce seems too thick). Season with salt and pepper. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low and simmer. Leftovers can be frozen if needed.


For the Meatballs:
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Spray a rimmed baking sheet with non stick spray

Combine the turkeybreadcrumbs, Parmesan, pesto, salt, pepper and egg in a large mixing bowl with your hands, taking care to not overwork the meat. Form golf ball-size meatballs and stuff each with 1 mozzarella cube. Evenly space the meatballs on the baking sheet. Bake until just starting to brown, 15 minutes.

Remove the meatballs from the oven and place them in the simmering sauce, cover with the lid.

Split the sub rolls and open them slightly, place on a baking sheet and bake in the oven until toasty, about 5 minutes.

Place 3 meatballs on each sub and smother with with the marinara sauce, top with a sprinkling of Parmesan cheese.

ENJOY!


Chicken Parmesan BLTs

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Hello to you fabulous foodies! Have you missed me? I sure have missed you!! I can’t believe this move has kept me away for 2 weeks! I can tell you that moving blows and I will never move again if I have anything to do with it. If we have to move, we will hire someone to do it next time instead of thinking we are 20 years younger and our backs, among other parts, were up to the task. My chiropractor asked me if I had been in a car crash!!! 

I am still trying to find places for all of my kitchen stuff, as this kitchen is waaaay smaller than my other one. It is proving to be quite difficult but I will prevail! I refuse to have my butt kicked by pantry items and pots and pans!! I am also having to learn how to cook on an electric stove, something I am not happy about I can tell you. Luckily Kevin had an electric stove before we met so he is helping me figure it out, but as soon as we can you can bet we will be installing a gas stove!!

Since I am organizing, and learning, I have not been able to cook any meals for the blog in my new home. I cooked our first real dinner in the new place last night. A simple pork loin with rosemary and garlic, mashed potatoes, and sauteed asparagus. After eating on the go for the last few weeks it was so nice to sit down to a nice quiet meal, just the two of us.

This sandwich was one of the last things I made in the old house. I am a bit obsessed with BLTs right now. I have been trying to turn everything into a BLT. Some are good, others not so much, but this was amazing, but a warning, is not a meal for those that don’t like mess. This is a great messy in your face sandwich. We loved it! I guess you could of course use a knife and fork if you want, but we didn’t and laughed at each other through yumms and mmms about how good it was. We have a few sammies on our list of ones to make again, and this is on it for sure! I hope you give it a try.

What is your favorite sandwich?

Chicken Parmesan BLTs
adapted from a recipe by Rachael Ray

  • For the Sauce:
  • 1 15-ounce can whole tomatoes (squish them in a bowl with your hands to break them up a bit)
  • 3 cloves of garlic, thinly sliced
  • 1 Fresno chili pepper, thinly sliced with seeds (can sub 1 teaspoon dried red chili flakes)
  • 2 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • Kosher salt (to taste)

  • For the Chicken Parmesan Cutlets:
  • 1 chicken breasts, halved across, 2 cutlets total
  • Flour, for dredging, in shallow dish
  • 1 large eggs, beaten in shallow dish
  • cup Panko breadcrumbs or homemade coarse breadcrumbs
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/4 cup of fresh flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 3 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • Kosher salt 
  • Coarse ground pepper
  • Olive oil for frying

  • For the BLT Topping:
  • 4 slicesthick-cut bacon
  • 1/2 cup light or fat free ricotta cheese
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, finely chopped
  • Zest of 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons fat fee evaporated milk (can sub half-n-half)
  • A drizzle of Olive Oil
  • Kosher salt 
  • Coarse ground black pepper
  • Fresh mozzarella cheese, sliced to desired thickness
  • Lettuce, torn
  • 1 tomato, sliced
  • 2 crusty style hoagie rolls, toasted 

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

To prepare the sauce heat olive oil over medium heat. Add garlic and chilies, cook until fragrant and garlic is golden, about 3 minutes. Add tomatoes. Season with salt and simmer over low heat partially covered for 30 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Pound chicken cutlets to about 1/8 inch. Season them with salt and pepper. Set up three dishes, one with the flour, one with the eggs and another with the breadcrumbs, cheese, parsley, lemon zest and garlic. Coat chicken in flour, shaking off any excess then dip them in the egg and then in breadcrumb mixture. Fry in shallow oil over medium to medium- high heat until deeply golden. Keep cutlets warm in the oven on a rack placed on a rimmed baking sheet.

Combine the ricotta cheese in a bowl with thyme, lemon zest, olive oil, evaporated milk, and salt and pepper.

Remove the chicken from the oven and place rack at center of oven then switch on broiler. Toast the rolls and remove. Arrange chicken on roll bottoms in this order: cutlet, sauce, 2 slices mozzarella cheese. Broil until mozzarella is bubbly. Top with bacon, lettuce, tomato. Generously apply ricotta mixture to roll tops and set into place. Have lots of napkins!

ENJOY!!

2 servings

Turkey Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats

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My son’s girlfriend brought over these huge zucchinis from her Mom and Dad’s garden. I love zucchini but these bad boys were big! I thought about frying them in slices and making some kind of spicy dipping sauce but I just hated to take those big beauties and fry them. Then I thought about the stuffed peppers I made and thought that the stuffing would work so well using the zucchini in place of the peppers. I mean the stuffing already has gated zucchini in it so I knew the flavors would be awesome. Plus it was taking a nice fresh veggie and keeping it on the healthy side. My stuffing uses turkey sausage and low fat cheese. 
When I ran the idea by the rest of my housemates everyone thought it sounded like a winner so that was enough for me, the decision was made. Then with Kevin’s father having to be placed in a nursing home, and us wanting to be there at mealtimes as much as possible so we can make sure he is eating, The ingredients just sat in my refrigerator. To be honest when I pulled them out last night was afraid that they wouldn’t be usable anymore and I would be making a trip to the store. But I wouldn’t be able to replace those big beautiful zucchinis. I crossed my fingers and pulled them out of the fridge. Yesssss they were fine, just like I first got them, thank you Lord!!! 

They came out better than I ever could have expected, they really did! I wish now I had made more. I just cooked the two large (extra large) zucchinis halved. So I had leftover stuffing. The original recipe was enough stuffing for 6 bell peppers so if you have 6 zucchinis it would be perfect. I also subbed yellow squash for the zucchini in my original recipe because I was already stuffing zucchini I wanted something else in the mix. 
Like I said, these came out so much better than I could have ever imagined. Kevin loves my stuffed peppers and he said he may just like these even more. Wow now I am in competition with myself! I love it!!
Turkey Sausage Stuffed Zucchini Boats
6  large zucchinis
1 (28-ounce) can of Italian tomatoes
2 medium yellow squash, grated
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese
1 cup low fat mozzarella for the topping
1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil
5 cloves garlic, minced
1 large onion, chopped
4 cups chicken stock, plus and extra cup for baking.
1 1/2 orzo (rice shaped pasta)
1 pound turkey sweet Italian sausage ( I used Jennie-O)
Kosher salt
Fresh ground black pepper
1 tablespoon paprika
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, chopped
2 tablespoons fresh thyme leaves, chopped
1/4 cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F

Pour the tomatoes in a large bowl and break apart using your fingers or potato masher. Add the squash, Parmesan cheese, olive oil, salt, and pepper to taste. Stir to combine.

Bring the 4 cups of chicken stock to a boil in a medium saucepan over high heat. Add the orzo and cook to package instructions. Use a fine mesh sieve to transfer the orzo to the large bowl with the vegetables, reserving the chicken stock. Stir to combine the orzo and veggies and pour the chicken stock into a 3 quart baking dish.

Cut each zucchini in half lengthwise. Scoop out the inside of each zucchini, leaving about 1/4 inch of flesh in each one. If zucchinis will not stand up use a knife to shave off a bit of the bottom to make it even. Set zucchinis into baking dish with all of the chicken stock. 

Mix 1 cup Pecorino Romano with the 1/4 cup chopped parsley leaves. Set asaide.

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, crumble and brown the turkey sausage until it is cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add the onions and minced garlic. Saute until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add the paprika, cayenne, oregano, thyme, salt, and pepper to taste. Add the orzo mixture and cook for about a minute to warm. Remove from the heat and spoon the mixture into the zucchinis. Bake for 25 minutes. Remove from oven and sprinkle each zucchini boat with the cheese parsley mix. Return to oven and cook an additional 5 minutes, or until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Remove from the oven and allow the zucchinis to cool about 5 minutes before serving.

ENJOY!!

Open Face Chicken Caprese Sandwiches

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I have been craving tomatoes and I don’t just mean a small craving, I am borderline obsessed with them lately! No big deal right? Tons of people are loving the lovely summertime treasures. Well my dear foodie friends it is very strange for me because I used to despise tomatoes. Not just dislike I seriously despised them!! I loved to cook with them, but a raw tomato? BLEK!! Oh how our tastes change right? Now I want to put them on everything.

I like to come up with food I call “nibbles”. Something small for dinner so people can eat more if they are hungrier but for me 1 is just a perfect meal. I make a Deconstructed Cordon Blue sandwich that everyone here loves. In fact when my daughter Jessi came to visit last month the only request she had was that I make the Cordon Blue sandwiches.
One night I was craving a Caprese salad. It just sounded nice and fresh on a hot summer evening. But I knew better than to present Kevin with just a salad for dinner. I would have gotten the “really?” face so I tried to figure out how I could give my meat lover something that would make him happy but also satisfy my craving. A blogger friend of mine Lisa, from Lisa’s Dinnertime Dish, had made Chicken Caprese that sounded awesome.That was when I thought about my Cordon Blue sandwiches. I would be able to give the rest of the family the meat and bread they like and sneak my salad in as well. A win/win situation yessssss!
The verdict? Everyone loved them. In fact they were gone so fast I wish I had made more! 

Open Face Chicken Caprese Sandwiches
2 good sized chicken breasts
3 good sized vine ripened tomatoes, cut into 16 slices
1 large package of fresh mozzarella cheese (you need 16 slices)
Fresh basil leaves, shredded or cut into a chiffonade 
1 clove of garlic, cracked
1 loaf Italian (or French bread), cut into 8 slices
Italian seasoning blend.
Salt and cracked black pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil, plus some for drizzling
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
Cut chicken breasts in half (like a book) and then cut the halves in half, giving you 8 chicken tender sized pieces. Season the chicken on both sides with salt and Italian seasoning blend.

Place bread slices on a baking sheet and drizzle them with olive oil. Bake the bread slices in the oven just until crispy, approx 5 minutes (times vary). When bread comes out rub it with the clove of garlic.

Turn the oven to broil

Meanwhile in a large skillet, over medium-high heat. Add olive oil to the pan and cook the chicken until done, 2 or 3 minutes per side. 

Assemble the sandwiches by placing a piece of chicken, top with 2 slices of tomato, a bit of the fresh basil, and two slices of cheese. Place the sandwiches into the oven under the broiler and cook until the cheese begins to melt. Cook time depends on the thickness of the cheese.
Remove from oven, drizzle with a bit of olive oil, sprinkle some cracked black pepper and basil on top.
ENJOY!!

Short Rib Lasagna Rolls

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Hello everyone and welcome to Food Star Friday!

I am very excited about starting a new chapter of Bobbi’s Kozy Kitchen and I hope you enjoy it. I know I love cooking different chef’s recipes because it not only keeps me on my toes, but it helps me to think outside my own box and learn new ways of doing things.

Today’s recipe is Short Rib Lasagna courtesy of Giada De Laurentiis. This recipe was one that aired on her Father’s Day episode and she said that this was one of her husband Todd’s favorite dishes. I watched her make it and it looked so good that I had to try it. I didn’t want to do the same old thing for Father’s Day, I wanted something different. Since my father loves Italian food and Kevin loves short ribs so it seemed like a match made in heaven to me.

This recipe does take some time since you have to cook the ribs low and slow to get them as tender and juicy as possible. So that to me is the only set back. But this wasn’t just a regular weekday meal. That is when my Rachael Ray alter ego comes out and I want things cooked quick with as little stress and time as possible. This was Father’s Day so it was well worth it! I am sorry the picture isn’t very good, I can tell you the lasagna WAS! When I served it there was barely a possitive ID check, I mean it! I had to pull my hands back and make sue all my fingers were there! So I would say this one was a hit, don’t you think so?

Please make sure to leave me a comment and let me know what you think about Food Star Friday.

Short Rib Lasagna Rolls


Ribs:
2 tablespoons olive oil
 2 1/2 pounds beef short ribs
2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 onion, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic, peeled and smashed
2 (4-inch) sprigs fresh rosemary
2 cups red wine
2 cups beef broth

Filling:
3/4 cup milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 1/2 cups grated Pecorino Romano (6 ounces)
1 cup shredded mozzarella (4 ounces)
1 (10-ounce) packet frozen spinach, thawed, drained, and squeezed of excess liquid
1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus extra for seasoning
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus extra for seasoning
12 lasagna noodles (about 10 ounces)
Butter, for greasing baking dish
1 (25-ounce) jar marinara sauces
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
Olive oil, for drizzling

For the ribs:
In a large dutch oven or heavy bottomed stock pot, heat the oil over medium high heat. Season the ribs with 2 teaspoons salt and 1 teaspoon pepper. Add the ribs to the pan and cook until brown, about 4 minutes each side. Remove the ribs and set aside. Add the onions, garlic, and rosemary. Season with salt and peppe. Cook until the onions are translucent and soft, about 5 minutes. Increase the heat to high. Add the wine and scrape up the brown bits that cling to t he bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon. Add the beef broth and ribs to the pan. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover the pan, and cook until the meat is very tender, 2 1/2 to 3 hours. Remove the ribs and set aside to cool enough to handle, about 20  minutes. Discard bones and cooking liquid. Using 2 forks, shred the meat into 2 inch long pieces (to yield approximately 2 1/4 cups shredded meat).

For the filling:
In a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan, bring the milk and cream to a simmer over medium heat. Reduce the heat to low. Add the cheeses and whisk until melted and the sauce is smooth. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the spinach, basil, and garlic. Place the shredded meat in a medium bowl and pour the spinach mixture on top. Add the salt and pepper. Using a fork, mix until combined. Taste and adjust the seasoning with salt and pepper, if needed.

Bring a large pot of salted water to boil over high heat. Add the pasta and cook until just tender but still firm t the bite, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.

Place an oven rack in the center of the oven. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F> Butter a 9 by 13-inch glass baking dish.

Spread 1 cup marinara sauce in the bottom of the prepared baking dish. Lay 4 noodles flat on dry work surface. Spread 1/4 to 1/3 cup of the filling mixture evenly along each noodle. Roll up and place seam-side down in the baking dish. Repeat with the remaining noodles and filling to make 12 lasagna rolls. Spoon remaining marinara sauce on top and sprinkle with Parmesan. Drizzle with olive oil, bake until the lasagna rolls are heated through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 25 minutes.

Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce

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This recipe is one that I have used for a few different things. It was actually one of the first recipes I ever wrote to my own liking. I combined 3 different recipes to get it. It was kind of confusing. No wait……did I already list that?…..no I need to double that?……how many people will this feed?…..holy crap what was I thinking??? Ya, that is pretty much how it went. When I first started out I got confused very easily. HA who am I kidding? I STILL get confused, it is just part of my charm.

I was really excited to dust this bad boy off. I have never made it for Kevin and it is a nice comfort food kind of home cooked meal. Lately I have been more about trying to cook healthier and eating more fish and chicken. Don’t get me wrong, you can make this healthier, and I probably should have off the bat. But I wanted Kevin to taste the original before I started changing it up on him I guess.

This was also a recipe that I knew everyone would eat. My Dad is not a big fish lover, well actually he just flat out doesn’t like fish. But remember I got him to TRY the Crabby Mac so at least he gives a bit or rather a bite once in a while. HE was very happy to see this meal. I mean Italian right? You know he was a happy camper!

Like I said, you can “healthify” this meal fairly easily. Substitute lean turkey for the ground beef and low fat or fat free ricotta. Also if you can find the shredded mozzarella in low fat that will help too.

Stuffed Shells with Meat Sauce

1 pound lean ground beef
1 medium onion, chopped
2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil (EVOO), plus a bit for drizzling
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 28-ounce can crushed tomatoes
1 6-ounce can tomato paste
Salt and cracked black pepper
2 tablespoons fresh oregano leaves, chopped
1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
4 cups (2 16-ounce containers) ricotta cheese
3/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup fresh flat-leaf parsley flakes, chopped
2 eggs lightly beaten
1 box, 12 ounces, Jumbo Shells
1 1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 375 degrees F
Bring a large pot of water to boil over high heat. Generously salt the water and add the pasta. Cook just shy of al Dente (a couple minutes short of what the package says). Drain pasta and drizzle with olive oil to prevent the shells from sticking together.
Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add the 2 tablespoons of EVOO, eyeball it. Add the ground beef and break it up with a wooden spoon into small bits, cook till brown. Add the onions, and garlic and cook until the onions begin to become translucent, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the tomato paste and stir into meat, then add the crushed tomatoes, oregano, crushed red pepper flakes, and salt and pepper to taste. Heat to a bubble then turn the heat down to simmer and cover the pan.
In a bowl mix the ricotta, Parmesan cheese, eggs, parsley, and salt to taste. Stir until mixed. 
Spoon half of the meat sauce into a 13 x 9 casserole dish, spread it evenly across the bottom. 1 at a time carefully spoon a tablespoon of the cheese mixture into a shell and place on top of the meat mixture in the casserole dish. 
Once the shells are filled top them with the remaining meat sauce, then sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese. 
Place shells in the oven on the middle rack and bake for 30-35 minutes until cheese is bubbly and browning. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes before serving.
Serves 4 to 6