Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Baked Spaghetti

I was first introduced to Baked Spaghetti my freshman year. I was in a group through my church that met off campus during the week and had dinner together prior to breaking into smaller groups for our weekly Bible studies. Leadership was responsible for the food and it was always exciting to have something from off campus (even though our on campus dining was insanely good and quite possibly the best college food in the country -- not just mean, it's been voted on before...) My favorite memory was that when one of the girls in particular was in charge you knew we were going to get Baked Spaghetti, Garlic Bread, and Home-made Banana Pudding. I have never attempted to recreate the amazingness, but tonight I decided to give it a go. I found a recipe via one of the blogs I follow and made a few alterations and have now added Baked Spaghetti to my recipe list.

Baked Spaghetti
Adapted from Heir to Blair
Serves 4 (hungry people)

8 oz spaghetti noodles
8 oz mozzarella cheese
1/2 lb ground beef
1/2 cup chopped onion
12 oz jarred spaghetti sauce
Salt, pepper, Italian seasoning to taste

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 and prepare a square baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Bring a pot of water up to a boil and cook the pasta just a minute or so less than the package instructions.
  3. Brown the beef and onion together in a large skillet.
  4. Add sauce to the skillet and season to taste.
  5. Once the noodles are drained return them to the pot and mix with 1/3 of the sauce so the noodles get coated just a little bit.
  6. Put 1/2 the noodles down in the baking dish and then another 1/3 of the sauce. Sprinkle with half the cheese.
  7. Repeat.
  8. Bake for 25-30 minutes or until bubbly.
This was a little light on the sauce for this household, but overall a good, quick, and easy dish. Sure it's pretty much spaghetti and baked ziti mashed up together, but I contend that is okay and they are totally different ;-)

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Shrimp Pasta with Old Bay

We have been wanting to get ourselves a shrimp pasta, shrimp scampi, shrimp ____ go-to recipe in this house. I have also been craving some Old Bay of late. We are originally from Maryland and while neither of us grew up anywhere near the Bay, we're Old Bay fans for sure. My favorite part about attending football games at the University of Maryland? Fresh cut boardwalk fries with malt vinegar and Old Bay. Pardon me while I get lost in my food daydream...

I decided to check out several recipes and their comments to see what I could come up with, the two that were most inspirational were from Annie's Eats and The Pioneer Woman (especially her Shrimp Pasta in a Foil Package recipe!)

Shrimp Pasta with Old Bay
Serves 2

1 Tbsp olive oil
2 Tbsp butter
1 clove garlic, Minced
14.5 oz can of diced tomatoes
2 Tbsp dry vermouth
1 tsp Old Bay Seasoning
Salt And pepper, to taste
1/2 pound shrimp, peeled and deveined
Fresh parsley, minced
4 oz linguine
  1. Bring water to a boil and preheat the oven to 350.
  2. Prepare a large package made from aluminum foil that will be able to hold your entire dish to go into the oven (make sure you have a cookie sheet underneath for easy transport to and from the oven.)
  3. In a large skillet, saute the garlic in olive oil and butter for a few minutes.
  4. Add in the diced tomatoes, vermouth, and Old Bay (don't forget to salt and pepper to taste.)
  5. Cook the pasta for 5 minutes (or half of the instructed time on the box) and then toss with the sauce and shrimp in the large skillet to coat.
  6. Pour the pasta, shrimp, and sauce into the foil top with some fresh parsley and wrap into a package.
  7. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes (this is where the shrimp will cook through) and unwrap the package when you are ready to serve.
  8. Toss everything once last time to make sure the parsley gets evenly distributed and enjoy!
This was pretty amazing and a completely new flavor profile for us at home. I served with some crusty bread to help soak up the deliciousness. Next time I may try and make a bit of a roux before adding in all the sauce ingredients in Step 4, but not very thick at all since you do need some moisture to help the pasta continue to cook while the foil package is in the oven.

This is definitely going on the rotation and may someday even be in the elite group of recipes deemed "fit to serve company" by Hubby.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Mom's Vegetable Beef Soup

I was in the mood for soup today and found out after I had already gotten excited about soup for dinner that I was missing a few ingredients for the Taco Soup I had my heart set on. I did however have the ingredients to throw together a batch of my mom's vegetable soup. This was a staple recipe in my house growing up as we are big soup fans and huge fans of the slow cooker. It was even a hit with the hubby when my mom made it for us while staying and helping out after the birth of our daughter last year. This recipe can be made stove-top or in the slow cooker and is super versatile in that you can add or delete pretty much any ingredients that you chose and even make it meat-free if you wish. The key to this soup is definitely the combination of the V8 and the sugar (when I say "to taste" here I fully plan on using almost a tablespoon of messing around here! My mom used to use a sugar substitute, probably Sweet N Low since that was still cool back in the 80s...I go for the real stuff.)

Mom's Vegetable Beef Soup
Serves 6-8

1/2 lb. ground beef*
2 c diced potatoes
64 oz V8 (I use Original, Low Sodium)
16 oz frozen veggies
Salt, pepper, and sugar to taste

  1. Brown ground beef in soup pot, season with salt and pepper.
  2. Add in remaining ingredients (add veggies you like, cabbage is a good addition to this soup if you're into cabbage in your soup) and bring to a boil.
  3. Reduce heat to simmer and serve when you're ready (and potatoes are done, obviously.)
Seriously, it's that easy.

*I am not a huge fan of meat in soups (yeah, I know that's weird coming from me who loves meat) and have been known to fully enjoy a bowl of chicken noodle soup while leaving a bowl full of chicken bits when the meal is over. I don't use much meat in this soup, but like the way just a little bit flavors the mom would probably make this with at least a pound of ground beef and you can totally do that without doing anything strange to the balance of the soup as I have written it out above.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies

I had clipped this recipe out of a Martha Stewart magazine a few years ago and had always wanted to try it. It's made it's way around the blogs, so I had lots of comments to check out to make sure I didn't make any glaring mistakes. In the end these turned out amazingly well (even Hubby agreed and he was quite skeptical when I first mentioned the recipe) and it will definitely be a keeper (especially since it worked out to only be 2 WeightWatchers points per cookie with my adapted recipe!)

Strawberry Shortcake Cookies
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Makes 2 dozen

12 oz strawberries hulled and chopped (weight after prep)
Zest and juice from 1/2 lemon
9 Tbsp sugar (1/2 c + 1 Tbsp)
2 c flour
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp kosher salt
6 Tbsp cold butter cut into small cubes
2/3 c whole milk
Sugar in the Raw (or other turbinado sugar), optional, for sprinkling
  1. Preheat oven to 375.
  2. Place the prepped strawberries in a small bowl and gently toss with the lemon zest and juice and 2 Tbsp of sugar.
  3. In a large bowl whisk together the remaining 7 Tbsp of sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt.
  4. Cut the cold butter into the dry ingredients with a pastry cutter, or if you're like me and don't have one of those, just work the butter into the flour mixture with your fingers until the whole thing is crumbly.
  5. Once the butter is incorporated, pour in the milk and stir until just mixed before adding in the strawberries.
  6. On parchment paper-lined cookie sheets drop the dough (which will be very similar to a biscuit dough rather than a cookie dough) in rounded tablespoons.*
  7. Optional - Sprinkle with Sugar in the Raw or turbinado sugar if desired.
  8. Bake at 375 for 20-24 minutes and allow to cool on a cooling rack.
I can only image these would be delicious with some strawberry ice cream, you know, if you're into that kind of thing. These are best served the day of baking, but are still delicious two days later as I can attest since I just ate one =)

Happy Spring!!

*The original recipe, and all the others I found online, claim this recipe makes three dozen cookies. Now I'm fully aware that we like large cookies in this house, but I do not think I made them even above average sized and I only got two dozen.