Wednesday, July 31, 2013

How to make Manicotti and a thanks to my Mother

Sometimes when I want to make a blog I think back over what I have done and ask what would my audience like to know how to make? Not that I have a huge audience, but I would like to think sometimes people read this and go well that sounds fantastic! There are other times where I have zero energy or passion to do anything. We all get run down, we all feel the drag that is life. Last week, all week, I was convinced I would not be writing in my blog anymore. I thought you know what, screw this, not interested. Too much work for me to do, not that I do a whole lot, I mean I write, take photos, try new dishes, and clean. There is the painful part. I do all that alone nine times out of ten. Sometimes I have a helper. When I do I am reminded how much I love my blog. When someone says “Oh I saw a recipe on your blog!” I love it. When someone asks me for a good recipe I love giving those recipes out. However, when I am at home and it’s just Peter and I eating whatever it is I have made I feel a little melancholy. Like no one else is around to eat this? Wow, how lame.
Then I realized this is because I grew up with a plethora of people coming and going in my mother’s home (Her birthday was Sunday too by the way). Students she taught whose parents may or may not have been able to feed them, wrestlers, football players, some tennis girls with me, my brothers friends, my friends, my grandparents (holidays and birthdays), kids we were watching (Jesika and Macie especially). Not that we had a lot of parties at my house, we were not party central, but dinner most always had a guest or two, I mean what's the point in having a 10 seat table if not to use it. My mother was the best at predicting how much food to cook, what to make people so that they would love it. She always had enough food for us, always. She was amazing at it. She also nurtured the baking gene in me, minus her love of pie crust, when we would make dinner, and I would help, she would let me do dessert. Not that she was unable to make a dessert, I could make one and I liked to, she does not like to. I was always the baker in the family. My mother always invited those less fortunate, and in need of a meal to our home, would send them away full and with any leftovers, if someone’s family was out of reach for a holiday she (or my grandmother, her mother in law) would invite them for a family dinner with us, no problem. I remember going away to school and when the holiday’s would come my mother would ask me if any of my friends could not make it home to their families, she would always invite any of them to join us. It was very nice. If you are one of my friends reading this, know that my mother has invited you to her house for food and lodging, you should feel blessed, she is an amazing person.
Now back to the point. I don’t like cooking for two, well if the two is just Peter and I. I like cooking for others, just not me. How lame is that? Super lame. Don’t worry I’ll answer it for you.
This last week I made a couple of things and none I wanted to write on. I just didn’t feel it. Then this week I decided to make Manicotti . I had never made it before. But I liked it. Plus I was standing in the store and needed pasta and I just saw it and thought sure, why not. Now pasta is not my husband’s favorite, not by any means. He ate it a lot growing up, runners in his family, therefore, needing extra carbohydrates. He calls and asks what are we having for dinner? I go Manicotti . He pauses and goes hey I have a gift card let’s go out. I thought sure. Well I put the Manicotti to rest and thought about it some more. I had looked up a recipe, I had ingested some before, but I thought I bet I could make this better…So while we were eating I said, we are still having Manicotti tomorrow, I am making it from scratch. He agreed, rather unhappily. Then I thought I’ll call test subject Derek, he like’s pasta, I’ll invite him too, and Sara (she was too busy for me though ;) ) then when I arrived at home I made this.

Manicotti my way – What you will need:
For Manicotti :
1 box of Manicotti 
1 8 oz tub of Ricotta Cheese
1/2 c. of Parmesan cheese (can be from the bottle mine was)
1/2 c. of mozzarella cheese (plus more for top)
1 tsp of garlic powder
2 eggs
1 tsp of parsley
1/2 tsp of Pepper and Salt
1/2 tsp of basil or oregano

Meat (Hamburger or sausage) Optional but I wanted some
2 Jars of pasta sauce
1/2 c of wine (I used red to make it sweeter)

First pre heat that oven to 350, then boil some water and add the Manicotti , stir gently and cook for 7 minutes (or whatever it say’s on the box) you don’t want it over cooked. Then drain and rise with cold water! In the mean time mix the cheeses, spices, and eggs together. Place the mixture in a piping bag, or a zip lock bag and snip the end. Also while this is going on, brown your meat, then, once brown, add Pasta sauce and wine stir and let it sit (you could simmer this for hours). Now once it is done grab a 13x9 pan and put some sauce on the bottom. Enough to cover the bottom, you don’t need it swimming in sauce just a light covering like you would do for lasagna. Then grab a pasta thing and “open” it. You don’t want to rip it open we just want to fill it with this cheese mixture. Stick the end of your bag in and add some cheese, place it on top of the sauce and continue until you've used up all the cheese mixture and all the noodles. This literally used all of the cheese mixture and all of the Manicotti . I went sparingly with the cheese so if you want more cheese, buy more. I did not. Anyway, then top with the rest of the sauce and add some mozzarella to the top if desired, which I did. Then pop in the oven and cook for 40 minutes, basically this is so the sauce permeates the pasta and tastes better. Serve with rolls, or salad, or both! Well how did it taste? Derek inhaled it, Peter inhaled it, both went back for seconds, which is amazing, and I loved it. It was by far the best I have ever had, all because I took the recipe I found and “fixed” it. I loved the extra spices I added, and I am glad I did it, other wise it is just too bland for me.
Now what is the moral of this story? Just because I was down and felt like giving up does not mean I have to, there is always inspiration, even if I had to dig for it. Sorry for the long intro but it is my blog, and you are reading it.

Garlic Knots and Manicotti! yum! 

Friday, July 19, 2013

How to make Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

 This week I wanted something yummy. I wanted Oatmeal Scotchies. But I did not have butterscotch chips. I had Chocolate chips. So, what better than Oatmeal Chocolate chip cookies – no freaking raisins! Yay! Here is a good recipe that I loved!

1 1/2 C. Flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
1 C. Butter
1 C. Brown Sugar
1 C. Sugar
2 Eggs
2 tsp of Vanilla
3 C. Oats
1 package of Chocolate chips

Pre-heat that oven to 350! Now cream the butter and sugar together until it is light and fluffy. Then add one egg at a time until they are fully incorporated. Now add some vanilla. Just a couple of teaspoons, yes this is more Vanilla than normal, but it’s okay, you will need it. Then add the flour, salt, and baking powder. Once that is fully in the mix add the oats and chocolate chips. Stir it up and then place it on a pan and cook for 12 – 13 minutes, when finished let sit on the pan for 2 minutes remove and enjoy. A couple of things about this recipe, the cookies are chewy. They have a good bite because of the oats and I really like this texture! Now the other thing, I was cooking these at my in-laws home. Their oven is evil. I have NEVER hated an oven so much in my life. It cooks things on the bottom (cook being a loose term since they burn) and the top is nowhere near done. For example biscuits: White on top, black on the bottom. Do you have any idea how irritating that is? Well. This is how you “fix” that problem without calling in the repair dude. Grab a 13 x 9 inch pan and fill it half full of water place in the oven on a lower rack and then pre-heat the oven. My cookies turned out right and the bottom did not burn. Yes, be impressed. Email me any questions you have!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

How to make Chicken Tacos

Tacos are amazing. Yes I love tacos. I love Mexican food too, but this is not authentic, nope, this is just tasty. What did I make this week for you all? Chicken Tacos. Here is my version, and it is amazing. Did I mention super easy!?

What you need:
½ - 1 c. of Pineapple Juice
1/4 c of Lime and Lemon Juice
2 tbsp of Garlic
1 tbsp of Worcestershire sauce  
2 tbsp of taco seasoning (homemade or bought)
Chicken (boneless) I used thighs

Grab a large sealable bag and toss everything in it. Let it marinade up to 5 hours – this is a quick marinade so it is going to pick up the flavors very easily. Once that is done marinating grab a pan (or heat up your grill if you have one) and cook the chicken until it is fully cooked. Please do not use any excess marinade – that is gross. Then once the chicken is done cooking let it rest a minute and slice, then put it on some taco shells – please note my giant soft flour tortillas, they are awesome. Fill with what you will and enjoy. Come by next week for something equally delicious and sorry I didn't write last week – I was busy!