Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Chicken, Sausage, Asparagus and Mushroom Pasta

by the CookandBeMerry blog

3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
2 lbs. chicken breasts, boneless, skinless & cut into 1-inch portions
1 lb. Italian sausage (any variety), removed from casing
2 tablespoons dry Italian herb mix (purchased, any favorite brand)
2 tablespoons - Kosher or sea salt & ground black pepper

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 cups yellow, brown or red onion, medium diced
3 tablespoons garlic minced
To season, Kosher or sea salt & ground black pepper

1 lb. asparagus, ends trimmed then angle-sliced in 1-inch portions
1 lb. crimini mushrooms (baby bellas), quartered
1 pint grape tomatoes, sliced in half lengthwise
1/2 cup Marsala wine

2 cups Parmigiano cheese, shredded or flaked
1/2 cup Marscarpone cheese, room temperature
1 cup fresh basil, thinly sliced

1+ lb. favorite pasta (I used bowtie or Farfalle pasta), cooked in salted water to al dente
1/4 cup purchased basil pesto

Warm the oil in a skillet over medium heat.  Add the chicken and sausage.  Season with the dry herbs, salt and pepper.

Brown the meat then remove from the skillet with a slotted spoon and transfer to a bowl.  Cover to keep warm.

Using the same skillet (do not clean), warm the butter over medium-high heat.  Stir in the onions and garlic.  Saute just until the onions are tender (2 minutes).  Season lightly with salt and pepper.

Add the asparagus, mushrooms and tomatoes to the skillet.  

Continue to cook just until the asparagus is crisp tender, the mushrooms are soft and the tomatoes barely cook (3-4 minutes).  Off the heat, add the wine, return the skillet to the heat, scraping up any browned portions, cook until it is nearly absorbed. Stir in the precooked chicken and sausage.  Cook, stirring, just until warmed through.

Just before serving, stir the Parmesan, Mascarpone and basil into the ragu.  Toss the pasto with the pesto.  Serve on individual plates or a platter topped with a generous serving of ragu.  Garnish with more parmesan cheese if desired.

I love pasta and enjoy finding new ways to cook it.  On today's "Pioneer Woman's" blog, she was featuring pasta dishes from all over the blog world.  I scrolled through them just because I like looking at the pictures she posted.  I came to a halt when I saw this one.  I was thrilled when I read that I had most of the ingredients even though I still had to go to the store for a few more items.  I whipped this up for dinner tonight it about an hours time.  I'm sure once I make it more often, I could probably whip it up within 45 minutes which isn't too bad.  The Italian sausage I used were links without a casing, which I already had in the refrigerator waiting for me to do something with them.  It was a hot spicy Italian sausage and it tasted great.  I didn't use the pesto at the end only because I'm not a big fan of pesto, it's just too strong for me and always leaves a bad taste in my mouth.  Plus, this dish has plenty of basil in my opinion, don't think it needs anymore.  Hubby seemed to like this dish, especially since it had two kinds of meat.  I'm not sure if Grandma liked it, she's not crazy about mushrooms so she set those aside but otherwise finished off her plate.  There's plenty left so I know what I'll be taking for lunch the rest of the week and I don't mind  one bit!~isavortheweekend

Monday, April 25, 2011

Very Berry Italian Trifle 2

1/ 1/2 - 2 qt. trifle dish or bowl
8 trifle sponges or sponge cake, cut into slices
1 cup red currant jelly
8 - 10 Amaretto cookies (the hard version)
1/2 cup Limoncello
juice of half a lemon
12 oz. blackberries
2 eggs, separated
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cups Mascarpone cheese

Spread 1/4 of the jelly at the bottom of 4 sponge cakes.  Place at the bottom of the dish, jelly side up.

Take the other sponge cakes and place on top of the ones in the dish....

Take the Amaretto cookies and crush them in a food processor.

....like this.

Sprinkle evenly over the sponge cakes, reserving enough to sprinkle at the end - maybe 1/4 cup.

Take 1/4 of the Limencello

.....and pour over the sprinkled sponges.  Set aside.

Put the remaining jelly and the lemon juice in a medium saucepan...

....stir until melted.

Add the berries (reserve 6 for later) into the jelly mixture, turn up the heat, gently stir until the start running.

like so and watch how the berries turn a beautiful dark pink color

Pour the berries and it's juices into the bowl of sponges.  Try coating all the sponges - i tried, i really did :)

This is what it should look like so far.  Set aside.

With a handheld mixer, mix the sugar and the egg yolks until you have a thick smooth yellow paste.  Well, this step didn't work for me.  As soon as I put the mixer in, egg yolk and sugar went flying all over the place.  I continued to use it, just worked it very carefully but I could never get it into a paste no matter how hard I tried, I'm not sure why so I continued onto the next step.

Add the rest of the Limoncello and mix until the mixture resembles a light mousse.

Mix in the Mascarpone cheese until everything is smoothly combined,

like this.

Put the egg whites in a mixing bowl and whisk until firm.

Gently fold the egg whites into the egg mixture.

like this - I can eat this just the way it is - mmmm, so good!

Pour the mixture on top of the berries in the bowl.

Cover with plastic wrap and place in refrigerator for 4 hours or overnight.

Before serving, decorate topping with reserved crushed Amaretto cookies and berries. This was our Easter dessert

Need I say more?

I found this recipe in La Bella Vita's blog.  I immediately fell in love just by the picture she posted.  I posted this recipe back in March but didn't have enough step by step pictures since I wasn't the one who prepared it.  Elise did and she's still learning to juggle the camera and cooking at the same time.  We also made our own sweet lemon juice that last time since we didn't have any Limoncello and what a difference!!!!  You must have Limoncello to make this recipe - no ifs, ands or buts about it.  This dessert will be a longtime favorite in the years, decades to come.  ~isavortheweekend

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Easter Cookies

Vanilla-Almond Sugar Cookie Recipe

3 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 c sugar
2 sticks (salted) butter, cold
1 egg
3/4 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/2 tsp pure almond extract

Preheat oven to 350.

Combine the flour and baking powder, set aside. 

With the paddle attachment,  cream the sugar and butter. Add the egg and extracts and mix. Gradually add the flour mixture and beat just until combined, scraping down the bowl, especially the bottom.  Continue to mix until the all the ingredients are completely incorporated.

Roll onto a floured surface and cut into shapes. Place on a lined baking sheets and bake for 10-12 minutes. Let sit a few minutes on the sheet, then transfer to a cooling rack.


1 cup confectioners sugar
3 tsps. Milk
2 tsps. Light corn syrup
1/2 tsp. almond extract

In a small bowl, stir together confectioners sugar and milk until smooth.  Beat in corn syrup and almond extract until icing is smooth and glossy (may take a little bit of muscle work but believe me, it will become smooth).  If icing is too thick add a another teaspoon of milk.

With an offset spatula, spread the icing - it's a little tricky at first because it's so thick but once you keep working with it you'll start to get the hang of it.  You can dip the cookie into the icing too but I personally don't like that method - it uses too much icing and it's messier.  

Let the iced cookies dry for a couple of hours in a cool, dry room.  You can also let them dry overnight. 

  The cookies are ready when you gently push down on the icing and you don't leave an indention.  Once the icing on the cookies have dried, you can start painting them with food coloring. (I bought my food coloring at Michaels craft store in the Wilton Cake section - they have lots of choices and a good variety).  

Decorating these cookie eggs was fun, I felt like I was decorating real Easter eggs.  Paint any kind of design, anything goes, and paint 'til your hearts content!

Let the paint on the cookies dry for a couple of hours or overnight.  Do not cover as the paint needs air to dry.

Cute bunny!

Happy Easter!!  He has risen......He has risen indeed!!

I'm a big fan of this cookie recipe, this is about the 4th time I've made this cookie recipe as well as the icing.  I will keep making them until I'm sick of them which I hope is never.  ~isavortheweekend

Roasted Carrots with Thyme and Roasted Asparagus with Parmesan Cheese

6-8 carrots
1 1/2 - 2 tbsps olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 - 2 tsps fresh thyme or a couple of pinches of dried thyme

Heat oil in a large skillet (10" skillet will suffice).  Cut carrots in half and then in half again, lengthwise

Roast carrots in hot oil under medium heat for about 1/2 hour.  Stir occasionally.

Carrots are ready when they're soft, browned and carmelized.

Remove from heat.  Put in a bowl and add the fresh thyme.  Gently toss.
I found this recipe online from Ms. enPlace.  It looked so good and mind you, I am not crazy about cooked carrots.  But roasting them and then adding fresh thyme sounded delightful.  My husband loves cooked carrots so it was a nice change.  I then decided to cook my asparagus the same way (see below) and they both turned out AWEsome!!

1 bunch fresh asparagus
1 1/2 - 2 tbsps. olive oil
Salt and pepper
1/4 cup -1/2 cup shredded fresh parmesan

Heat oil on medium heat.  Rinse and dry the asparagus.  Snap off the ends of each asparagus spear. Place asparagus in heated oil.  Sprinkle with salt and pepper.  Toss and turn for 5-7 minutes.  

Remove from pan and place in serving bowl.  Sprinkle with parmesan cheese.  Cover with with foil until ready to serve.

This was our Easter dinner (see above top picture).  I served the vegetables with a Spiral Glazed Ham, Homemade Potatoes AuGratin with Gruyere cheese and yeast Rolls.
This is what I made for dessert (I made it yesterday - the day before it was to be served)
Very Berry Italian Trifle

I'm in the middle of a 3-day weekend!!  yay!!  I don't work tomorrow! ~isavorthweekend

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Perfect Potatoes au Gratin

by Pioneer Woman

4 Whole Russet Potatoes
2 Tablespoons butter, softened
1-1/2 cup heavy cream
1/2 cups whole milk
2 tablespoons flour
4 cloves garlic, finely minced
1 teaspoon salt
Freshly ground pepper, to taste
1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, freshly grated

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

 Smear softened butter all over the bottom of a baking dish.

Scrub the potatoes clean

Slice potatoes, then cut slices into fourths.

In a separate bowl, whisk together cream, milk, flour, minced garlic, salt, and plenty of freshly ground pepper.

Place 1/3 of the potatoes in the bottom of the baking dish.  Pour 1/3 of the cream mixture over the potatoes.

Repeat this two more times, ending with the cream mixture.  Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.  Remove foil and bake for 20 minutes more or until potatoes are golden brown and really bubbling.

As my dish started to bubble and brown, I quickly started to add the cheese before I had a chance to take a picture of the bubbling mixture and then stopped and then realized how silly the little bit of cheese looks.  So anyhow, after I took this picture, I added the cheese but then forgot to take a picture of it the whole dish covered in cheese...oy!  It's hard to juggle cooking and a camera ;)  Bake for only 5 more minutes.

Allow to stand for a few minutes before serving by the spoonful.  Delicious!

I'm becoming a big fan of Sandy Gluck on the Martha Stewart radio.  She usually comes on the radio when I get in my car during my lunch break.  Well the other day she was talking about making Potatoes AuGratin and my lips were salivating.  I couldn't wait to get home and make them!!  This recipe isn't hers because I couldn't find it so I ended up resorting to who else, but Pioneer Woman and once again, she did not disappoint!!  Although this dish wasn't as cheesy as I'd like it to be, it was still very delicious.  I'll just remember next time to add more cheese AND maybe I'll try Gruyere cheese.

This was today.  Rainy and thundering.  Love the rumble of thunder.  Isn't this a beautiful.  I'm taking this picture of our front lawn from the foyer of our house.  Welcome Spring!!!  ~isavortheweekend
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