Friday, May 30, 2008

Lentil Sausage Soup

1 pound lentils (1 bag)
1/4 c. olive oil, plus extra for serving
4 c. diced onion (3 large)
1 tbl. garlic, minced
1 tbl. kosher salt
1 1/2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1 tbl. thyme
1 tbl. ground cumin
3 c. medium diced celery (abt. 8 stalks)
3 c. medium diced carrots (abt. 4-6)
1/4 c. tomato paste
1 32 oz. box of chicken broth (you may want to add more if it seems really thick, or just add some water)
2 tbl. red wine vinegar
1 pound kielbasa, cut into chunks or 1 lb. ground Italian sausage
grated Parmesan cheese, for serving

*At times, I've also added 1 14.5 oz. can of diced tomatoes in addition to the tomato paste. If you feel like cleaning them, you can add 4 cups of chopped leeks, white and light green parts only, (abt. 2 leeks), but I never add them.

In a large bowl, cover the lentils with boiling water and allow to sit for 15 minutes. Drain.

Brown and drain the kielbasa/sausage.

In a large stockpot over medium heat, heat the olive oil and saute the onions, leeks if desired, carrots and celery until tender/translucent. Add the garlic, salt, pepper, thyme and cumin. Saute for a few minutes longer. Add the chicken broth, tomato paste (diced tomatoes if wanted) and drained lentils. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 1 hour, or until the lentils are cooked through and tender. Check the seasonings. Add where needed. Add the kielbasa/sausage and vinegar and simmer until they are hot. Serve drizzled with olive oil and sprinkled with grated Parmesan cheese.

Crock Pot Italian Chicken

4-5 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
2 cans cream of chicken soup
1 8 oz. package cream cheese
1 package dry Italian dressing
chicken broth

Spray the crock pot with a non-stick cooking spray. Mix the soup, cream cheese and dressing together. Pour into the crock pot. Add the chicken. Add some chicken broth as it cooks if it seems to be very thick. Cook on low for about 6 hours, on high for 4. Shred the chicken when cooked and serve over rice or egg noodles.

Italian Sausage Rigatoni

1 lb. sweet Italian Sausage
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 28 oz. can crushed tomatoes
1 tbl. dried basil
1 c heavy cream or half and half
1/2 c grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 lb. fontina cheese, grated
1 lb. rigatoni pasta, cooked
1 small package fresh mushrooms, sliced

Brown the sausage. Add garlic and mushrooms and cook for 1 minute. Add tomatoes and basil. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to medium-low and simmer for 10 minutes. Add the cream and cheeses. Stir until the cheese is melted. Serve over pasta.

Banana Bread

Combine in a bowl:

2 1/2 c flour
1 2/3 c sugar
1 1/4 tsp baking powder
1 1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt

Add to the dry ingredients and beat well:

2/3 c shortening
1/3 c milk
3 mashed bananas

When combined add:

3 eggs
1/3 c milk

Preheat oven to 350. Pour batter into a greased and floured loaf pan. Bake for 35-40 minutes.

Chicken Chalupas

4 large boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cubed or shreedded and cooked
1 can cream of chicken soup
1 can cream of mushroom soup
1 small can diced green chilies
1 small can diced olives, or 1/2 of a large can, chop them
1 pint sour cream
3-4 green onions, chopped
3 c shredded cheese
8-12 flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 350. Mix soup, chilies, olives, sour cream and onions. Add about 2 cups of cheese. Remove 2 cups of the mixture and reserve for topping. Add chicken to the remaining mixture. Place about 1/4-1/3 cup of the filling into the tortillas and roll. Place loosely (a little space between) in a 9x13 glass baking dish (you may need 2 dishes) that has been sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray. Spoon the reserved mixture over the top and sprinkle with the remaining cup of cheese. Bake for 40 minutes, or until hot and bubbly.

Cheese Enchiladas

About 3 cups shredded cheese (cheddar, colby, whatever you want. You can purchase bags of a "Mexican" blend.)
1 28 oz. can of enchilada sauce or red sauce
1/2 c chopped onion
8 flour tortillas

Preheat oven to 350. Reserve about 1/2 cup of cheese. Mix with remaining cheese about 1/4 of the can of sauce and about half of the onions. Just enough sauce to hold the filling together. Spoon about 1/4-1/3 cup of the filling into a tortilla. Roll and place into a 9x13 glass baking dish that has been sprayed with a non-stick cooking spray. This should make about 8 enchiladas. Pour the remaining sauce over the enchiladas. Top with the remaining cheese and onions. Cover lightly with foil and bake for about 30 minutes, or until bubbly and the cheese is melted.

Italian Chicken

4 skinless, boneless chicken breasts (about 1 pound total)
2 tbl olive oil
1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
2 cloves garlic, minced
3 large tomatoes, coarsely chopped
1/4 c Greek black olives or ripe olives, pitted and sliced
1 tbl capers, drained
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp pepper
1/4 cup dry red wine or chicken broth
2 tsp cornstarch
1/4 chopped fresh basil
2 c hot cooked couscous

In a large skillet heat 1 tbl of the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add chicken, cook for 4-5 minutes on each side or until tender and no longer pink. Remove from pan and keep warm.

For sauce, add the remaining olive oil and onion. Cook until translucent. Add the garlic and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, olives, capers and salt & pepper. Bring to a boil, reduce heat. Simmer, covered for 3 minutes. Stir together the wine or broth and cornstarch. Add to the pan. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Stir in basil. Pour sauce over chicken and serve with couscous.

Better Than Sex Cake

1 German chocolate or other chocolate cake, bake in a 9x13 pan
3/4 c fudge topping
3/4 c caramel or butterscotch topping
3/4 c sweetened condensed milk
6 chocolate covered toffee bars
1 tub whipped topping

Do not remove the cafe from pan. After the cake has cooled, make holes in the entire top of the cake using a large fork or the handle of a wooden spoon. Pour (one at a time) fudge, butterscotch/caramel, and condensed milk over the top and let each soak into the cake before adding the next. Crush 3 candy bars and sprinkle on top. Chill the cake for about 30 minutes. Remove from refrigerator and frost with the whipped topping and the 3 remaining candy bars. You might want to refrigerate again. Just so it's firm enough for slicing. The sauces, obviously, make this very gooey.

Texas Ranger Baked Beans

1 28 ounce can baked beans
1 medium onion, diced
1 medium green pepper, diced
1 medium red pepper, diced
4 links spicy pork sausage, cut into chunks (you can also use ground spicy sausage like Mexican chorizzo)
2 tbl chili powder
3 tbl Worcestershire sauce
4 tbl vinegar
1/2 c packed brown sugar
1/2 c ketchup
1 tsp garlic powder
salt & pepper to taste
1 dash cayenne pepper or red pepper flakes (optional, depending on the amount of heat you want)

You can cook these in the oven, but I like to use a crock pot. If in the oven, preheat it to 350. I like to cook/brown the sausage first. I think it adds great flavor. Next, in a heavy pan, like a Dutch oven, combine everything together. Combine and bake for one hour.

If using a crock pot, cook on low for about 4-6 hours, on high for 3-4.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Vegetable Spinach Salad

8 ounces fresh mushrooms, quartered
1/4 - 1/2 of a red onion, sliced and separated into rings
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 large bag fresh spinach leaves
8 ounce ball of fresh mozzarella, cut into bite size pieces
freshly ground black pepper

Mustard Tarragon Vinaigrette

3 tbl red wine vinegar
1 tbl Dijon mustard
1/2 tbl dried tarragon
2 tbl olive oil

Whisk everything together until smooth. Pour over salad and enjoy.