Saturday, May 11, 2019

One Pot Creamy Spinach and Tomato Pasta

I grew spinach in my garden over the winter and spring. I was constantly on the hunt for recipes to incorporate a little spinach. I found this recipe on and unhealthified it by adding cream. :) You can also leave the cream out. It's an easy and versatile one pot dish. I've added basil and chicken and it's great that way too. The Cooking Light website has a video that I've linked above.

One Pot Creamy Spinach and Tomato Pasta
adapted from
1 TBSP olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
6 garlic cloves, finely chopped
1 (14.5-ounce) can petite diced tomatoes, undrained
1 1/2 cups chicken broth
1/2 tsp dried oregano
8 ounces spaghetti or linguine
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2-1 cup heavy whipping cream
10 ounce fresh spinach
1 ounce Parmesan cheese, grated (about 1/4 cup)

1. Heat a Dutch oven or large saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil; swirl to coat.
2. Add onion and garlic to pan; sauté 3 minutes or until onion starts to brown.
3. Add tomatoes, broth, and oregano. Bring to a boil. Add noodles; stir to submerge in liquid.
4. Cover, reduce heat to medium-low, and cook 7 minutes or until pasta is almost done.
5. Uncover; stir in salt. Add 1/2 cup whipping cream and stir until it thickens. Add 1/2 more if desired.
6. Add spinach in batches, stirring until spinach wilts. Remove from heat; let stand 5 minutes. Sprinkle with cheese and serve.

My Note: Leave out whipping cream for a healthier dish.
Chef's Notes from Cooking Light 1: Swap out spaghetti for any short pasta shape, such as elbow macaroni, rotini, or shells. 2: Use fresh grape tomatoes instead, and add fresh herbs. 3: Try adding chopped skinless, boneless chicken thighs, ground beef, or ground turkey for a heartier dish.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

Like Levain Bakery - Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies

I went on my first trip to NYC last month and had LOTS of yummy food! One of the BEST things I had were the cookies from Levain Bakery. We went to both locations and bought all 4 kinds of their giant $4 cookies. The chocolate chip walnut was my favorite. As soon as I got home, I went through cookie withdrawals. Sooo...I googled a copycat recipe and found this one. Thank you Melissa at Modern Honey for making my at home Levain cookie dreams a reality. She put in lots of work to figure out this recipe and I am reaping the rewards. One recipe makes 8 cookies, so do yourself a favor and double it. They do great in the freezer!

Like Levain Bakery - Chocolate Chip Walnut Cookies
1 cup cold butter cut into small cubes
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups flour
1 tsp cornstarch
3/4 tsp baking soda
3/4 tsp salt
2 cups chocolate chips
2 cups walnuts roughly chopped

1. Preheat oven to 410 degrees. Line a large cookie sheet with parchment paper.
2. In a large mixing bowl, cream together cold cubed butter, brown sugar, and sugar for 4 minutes or until creamy.
3. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each one.
4. Stir in flours, cornstarch, baking soda, and salt. Mix until just combined to avoid over mixing. Stir in chocolate chips and walnuts.
5. Separate dough into large balls (about 1/2 cup of dough or 5-6 oz) and place on prepared cookie sheet. You will fit 4 cookies on one large cookie sheet. The dough makes 8-10 extra large cookies.
6. Bake for 10-12 minutes (I bake mine closer to 12) or until golden brown on the top. Let them rest for at least 10 minutes to set.

Mine on the left, Levain on the right

 Levain Cookie #1

 New Levain Location

Levain Cookie #2

 Original Levain Location

Friday, May 3, 2019

Olive Garden Alfredo Sauce

I haven't posted a recipe in forever! It's time for Alfredo sauce! This recipe comes from the Olive Garden website. I love it! It's my new favorite. The reason why I love it is because it reheats well and doesn't separate. I took some pics the last time I made it and decided it was time to add it to the blog. This is enough sauce for about 12oz of pasta (I like to double it). Don't forget to salt and pepper to taste.

Olive Garden Alfredo Sauce
6 TBSPs butter
1 TBSP minced garlic
2 TBSPs flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, grated (buy the Frigo brick and grate it yourself)
1/2 cup Romano cheese, grated (or just double the Parmesan)
Salt and black pepper to taste
Fresh parsley for garnish

1. Saute the butter and garlic in a saucepan on medium heat. Cook for 1 minute, stirring occasionally.
2. Add the remaining ingredients to saucepan and stir occasionally until the sauce begins to simmer and thicken. Remove from heat.
3. Serve the Alfredo sauce over your favorite pasta, like fettuccine, linguine or bow tie.

 Note from Olive Garden: The key to making the best Alfredo sauce is quality ingredients like a good butter and freshly grated Parmesan cheese. Your Alfredo sauce will be as good as the ingredients you put into it.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

Baked Potato Soup

We have had unseasonably cold and wet weather which calls for lots of soup. This baked potato was one of those soups.

Baked Potato Soup
2 3/4 pounds russet potatoes
1/4 cup butter
1/2 cup onion, chopped
1/4 cup flour
3/4 tsp salt
2 tsps chicken bouillon granules
4 cups milk
2 cups half and half
1/2 sour cream plus more for topping
Salt and pepper to taste
6 slices of bacon, cooked and crumbled
Shredded cheddar
Green onions, thinly sliced (optional)

1. Peel and quarter potatoes and place them in a large pot. Cover potatoes with water, just until the tops are covered. Bring to a boil over med-high heat. Boil until potatoes are tender. Test with a fork. Drain water, When potatoes are cool enough to handle. Chop them into bite-sized pieces. Set half aside. Then using a potato masher, mash the other half. Set aside.
2. In a large sauce pan, melt butter then add onion. Saute until soft about 3 minutes.
3. Add flour, salt and bouillon, and whisk for 1 minute.
4. Gradually add milk, whisking as you pour, then gradually add half and half. Bring to a boil. Cook and stir for 3 minutes or until it begins to thicken. Stir in sour cream.
5. Add mashed potatoes. For a creamier texture blend with immersion blender. Then add chopped potatoes. Simmer for 5 more minutes.
6. When ready to serve top with sour cream, bacon, cheese, and green onion if desired.
Makes 8 servings.

Creamy Parmesan Potatoes

I had these potatoes at an ugly sweater Christmas party a couple years ago. They were AWESOME so I asked for the recipe. I've made them a few times and added some grated fresh Parmesan. These are sooo easy and delicious which is the perfect combo.

Creamy Parmesan Potatoes
adapted from a Melinda Preator recipe
1 30oz package frozen shredded hash brown potatoes
3 TBSPs dried minced onion
1 1/2 tsps salt
1 tsp pepper
1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
2 cups heavy whipping cream

1. Take frozen potatoes out of the freezer and let thaw until they easily break apart (about 4 hours in the fridge).
2. Pour shredded potatoes in to greased 9x13 baking dish.
3. Sprinkle dried onion, salt, pepper, and Parmesan cheese over potatoes. Mix together to combine.
4. Pour heavy whipping cream over the top of the potato mixture and stir lightly with a fork.
5. Cover with foil and bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. For the last ten minutes of baking remove foil to allow the top of the potatoes to crisp a little.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

Black Forest Cheesecake

My kids keep picking cheesecake as their birthday cakes this year! We had key lime and this chocolate cherry one too. I make this cheesecake the day before, and then just before serving, whip the cream and spread on the cherry topping. I use stabilized whipped cream because it holds it's shape longer, but you can use regular too.

Black Forest Cheesecake
1 1/2 cups crushed chocolate cookies (like chocolate graham crackers, teddy grahams, or oreos)
Pinch of salt
4 TBSPs butter, melted
3 packages of cream cheese
1½ cups sugar
2 TBSPs cornstarch
1 tsp almond extract
1 5.3 oz container of cherry yogurt
6 ounces of semi sweet chocolate, melted and cooled
3 eggs
1 tsp unflavored gelatin
2 tsps water
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/4 cup powdered sugar
1 can cherry pie filling

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Put the oven rack in the middle of the oven and the second rack below it. Place a 9x13 inch pan filled with 1 inch of HOT water in the oven on the bottom rack. Spray a 9 inch spring-form pan with cooking spray.
2. In a medium sized bowl mix the chocolate cookie crumbs, and salt. Add the butter and stir until evenly combined. Dump the crust mixture into the prepared pan and evenly press it down around the pan and about 1/2 inch up the sides.
3. Place 1 package of cream cheese, 1/2 cup sugar, and the cornstarch in a large mixing bowl and mix on low until creamy, scraping down the sides as needed. Add the remaining cream cheese, one package at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add remaining sugar, almond extract, yogurt, and melted chocolate, and mix on medium speed until blended, scraping down the bowl as needed. Blend in eggs, one at a time until completely blended, but do not overmix.
4. Pour the cheesecake filling onto the crust. Spread out evenly.
5. Bake on center rack for 1 hour until edges are set and only a slight jiggle in the middle.
6. Turn the oven off and open the door. Let cool in oven for 30 minutes. Then remove and let cool completely on wire rack. After it has cooled, cover the pan with plastic wrap and refrigerate until the next day.
7. When ready to eat, To make whipped cream, combine the gelatin powder and water in a small microwave safe bowl. Once water has been fully soaked up by the gelatin, microwave the mixture for 15-20 seconds. It should become a thick, hot liquid. Stir well and let sit at room temp. While gelatin is cooling, beat whipping cream and powdered sugar in large mixing bowl on med-high speed with whisk attachment until soft peaks form. With mixer running, slowly pour in the room temp gelatin and continue to beat until stiff peaks form.
8. Using a piping bag with a star tip, pipe stars/swirls around the edge of the cheesecake. Spoon the cherry pie filling on top of the cheesecake in the center of the cake, and spread to the edge of the piping.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Bacon and Corn Oven Risotto

I've tried making risotto and I just don't have the patience to stand there and stir forEVER! This recipe uses the oven! You only spend a few minutes stirring on the stovetop, and then you put the lid on your pan and stick it in the oven. I like using fresh corn cut straight off the cob, but you can use frozen too.

Bacon and Corn Oven Risotto
5 strips bacon
¾ cup Arborio rice
pinch of salt
1 shallot, thinly sliced
1 clove garlic, minced
3 cups low-sodium chicken broth, divided
1 cup fresh corn cut off the cob (frozen works too)
2 TBSP butter
¼ cup shredded Parmesan cheese
Fresh thyme (optional)
Fresh parsley, chopped (optional)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Cook bacon over medium heat in an oven-safe pan (with a lid) until crisp . Remove bacon to paper towels to drain, but leave bacon fat in pan.
3. Toast the rice in bacon fat over medium-low heat for about 1 minute, stirring frequently. Add pinch of salt, garlic, and shallot to pan and saute another minute.
4. Deglaze pan with ½ cup chicken broth and stir well until liquid has absorbed. Add 1 1/2 cups of chicken broth and stir into rice. Put lid on pan and bake in oven for 20 minutes.
5. Remove and stir rice for one minute. When all the liquid has absorbed, add another cup of chicken broth and corn and return to oven for 15 minutes.
6. Remove pan from oven. Stir in the butter, Parmesan cheese, and a few fresh thyme leaves (optional). If your risotto seems really thick or dry, stir in a few extra TBSPs of chicken broth (should be slightly saucy).
7. Top with crumbled bacon and parsley, if desired, and serve.