Wednesday, June 23, 2010


(Recipe adapted from Family Circle's Hometown Cooking cookbook)

Prep time: about 1 hour
Serves: 6-8


Meat Sauce-
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 8oz can tomato sauce
  • 1/4 cup dry red wine
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Pasta Mixture-
  • 1/2 pound penne pasta
  • 3/4 cup milk
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted

Cream Sauce-
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon fresh ground pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups milk
  • 3 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup shredded Kasseri (or Romano) cheese


For the meat sauce-Brown the beef and onions, cooking until the beef is no longer pink and the onions are tender. Add the cinnamon stick, tomato sauce and wine. Simmer for 30 minutes. Remove from heat, discard cinnamon stick and set aside.

For the pasta mixture-Cook pasta according to the directions on the packaging. Drain, rinse and repeat. In a large bowl whisk together the eggs, milk and melted butter. Stir in the pasta and set the mixture aside.

For the cream sauce-In a small saucepan, melt butter. Add flour, salt and pepper and stir til smooth over medium heat, creating a roux. Slowly add the milk and stir until mixture thickens and coats the back of a wooden spoon. In another bowl whisk together three eggs. Very slowly add the hot mixture to the eggs, tempering them.

To create the dish-Layer half the pasta mixture in a prepared 11.5x8.5x2 pan. Spread meat mixture over pasta. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup of cheese. Top with remaining pasta, and sprinkle with another 1/3 cup of cheese. Pour cream sauce over all, and sprinkle with remaining cheese. Bake, covered at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Uncover, and cook for another 15-25 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean. When dish is finished cooking, let stand for 15 minutes before serving.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Key Lime Coconut Cupcakes with White Chocolate Frosting

Photo Credit
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs, at room temperature
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 heaping teaspoon grated key lime zest
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons key lime juuice(bottled or freshly squeezed)
  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 1/3 cups loosely packed sweetened coconut flakes (3.5 ounces)
For the Frosting:
  • 5 ounces good quality white chocolate, chopped into small chucks
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar, sifted
  • Pinch salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon key lime juice (bottled or freshly squeezed)
  • 1/4 cup sour cream
  • Finely grated key lime zest, for garnish

Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.

In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and sugar on high speed until light and fluffy, about 5 minutes. With the mixer on low speed, add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping down the bowl after each addition. Add the vanilla extract, key lime zest and juice and mix well. In a separate bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. In 5 parts total, alternately add the dry ingredients and the buttermilk to the batter, beginning and ending with the dry. Mix until just combined. Fold the coconut into the cupcake batter.

Line a muffin pan with paper liners and fill each liner almost to the top with batter. A spring loaded 1/4 cup ice cream scoop works great for this and ensures the cupcakes are all the same size. Bake for 25 minutes or until the tops begin to brown and a toothpick comes out clean. Remove cupcakes from oven and allow to cool in the pan for 10 minutes and then transfer cupcakes to a baking rack to cool completely.

While the cupcakes are cooling you can make the frosting. In a small heat proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, carefully and slowly melt the white chocolate. Remove from heat and let cool until just slightly warm. Meanwhile, in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter until light and fluffy. With the mixer on low, gradually add the powdered sugar until well combined. Add the salt, vanilla extract, key lime juice, and sour cream and mix until very smooth. Add the melted white chocolate and mix just until incorporated.

Frost the cupcakes and garnish with a bit of grated key lime zest. Enjoy!

Source: Food Network

My notes: Best cupcake ever!

Chicken Spiedini

Chicken Spiedini

  • 1 1/4 pounds chicken breast tenderloins
  • 2/3 cup bottled sweet Italian salad dressing
  • 3/4 packaged seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • 3/4 cup halved fresh mushrooms
  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon butter
  • 1/4 cup coarsely chopped prosciutto
  • 34 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
  • 1 lemon, quartered

1. Marinate chicken in salad dressing for 2-24 hours.

2. Drain chicken, discard marinade. Dip chicken in bread crumbs to coat. Thread chicken on skewers, accordion style, leaving 1/4 inch space between pieces

3. Heat grill to medium. Grill skewers for 10-12 minutes, turning once halfway thru grilling.

4. In a large skillet, melt butter. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook until tender. Add prosciutto and cook 2 minutes.

5. Remove chicken from skewers; arrange on plates. Sprinkle chicken with mushroom mixture, top with cheese. Squeeze lemon to finish.

Source: Family Circle Hometown Cooking cookbook

My notes:

Everyone seemed to love this dinner. The chicken had a nice flavor, and even though I'm not a fan of prosciutto, it was quite tasty as part of the mushroom mixture. This is definitely a recipe I will make again. In place of regular bread crumbs I used panko. Also, I used baby bella mushrooms and quartered them. Next time, I think I might add just a few slices of onion and possibly introduce a little white wine to the mxiture and try to create a bit of a sauce.

I served this with roasted broccoli, cauliflower and carrots, Alexia french rolls, and fresh cherries.

Roasted broccoli, cauliflower and carrots are made by tossing veggies in a little bit of olive oil, sprinkling with freshed cracked black pepper, a little kosher or sea salt and roasted in the oven for about 20 minutes at 400 degrees. If you like a little kick, toss in a few red pepper flakes before roasting.