Friday, February 22, 2013

Three Cheese Manicotti

It's Friday.  It's the second Friday in Lent.  What's for dinner?  Good question.  It's 4pm here and this is what I am craving:  Three Cheese Manicotti.

Of course, I have none of the ingredients on hand, it's snowing (hasn't stopped all day) and I really don't feel like going to the grocery store.

However, I am going to blog about it :)  It's a pretty killer manicotti recipe   It's one of those recipes you file under "fancy".  Even if it really isn't fancy, it was definitely fancy when I first learned how to make it over 15 years ago.  It was the first from-scratch recipe that I really mastered.  It was always the recipe that you made when you wanted to impress someone.  As well, you can assemble it a day ahead of time - which is especially nice if you are short on time or plan to serve this to guests.  Just put it in the fridge and then bake the next day.  Serve this with a green salad and a nice red wine and voila!  Dinner.  Or, if you have hearty carnivores in your household - use the manicotti as an accompaniment to a good steak (that's how I prefer it).  Or, if you enjoy a meatless meal - have at it!  Enjoy.

Three Cheese Manicotti
3/4 Cup Chopped Onion
1 Clove Garlic, Minced
1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
1-16oz Can Diced Tomatoes
1-8oz Can Tomato Sauce
1 Teaspoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Oregano
1/4 Teaspoon Thyme
1 Small Bay Leaf
8 Manicotti Shells
2 Eggs, Beaten
2 Cups Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1 and 1/2 Cups Ricotta Cheese
1/2 Cup Grated Parmesan Cheese
2 Tablespoons Parsley
1/2 Teaspoon Oregano

For the sauce, in a medium saucepan, cook the onion and garlic in hot oil until tender but not brown.  Add the undrained tomatoes, tomato sauce, sugar, 1 teaspoon oregano, thyme and the bay leaf.  Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 20-25 minutes until thickened.  Remove from heat and discard the bay leaf.

Meanwhile, cook the manicotti shells according to package directions;  drain.  Rinse the shells in cold water.

For the filling, in a mixing bowl, stir together the beaten eggs, the ricotta cheese, the Parmesan cheese, parsley, a 1/2 teaspoon of oregano, a dash of pepper and 1 cup of the mozzarella cheese.  Spoon the filling into the manicotti shells.

Pour half of the tomato mixture into a 2 quart rectangular baking dish.  Arrange stuffed manicotti in the baking dish.  Pour remaining sauce over the shells.  Sprinkle the remaining mozzarella over the top of the sauce.  If desired, cover and chill the manicotti for up to 1 day.

To serve, bake the stuffed manicotti covered in a 250 degree Fahrenheit oven for 35-45 minutes or until heated through.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

Butter Mints

Here in the Midwest it's common practice to put out a little dish of mints at dinner parties, bridal or baby showers, weddings and special events.  Often, it's store bought pastel  mints and many times people will mix the mints with nuts when they set them out.  My husband loves those mints.  And I love candy.  What happens when you mix those two statements together:  the wifey decides to make the hubby homemade butter mints.  

These turned out really great!  It took less than an hour from start to finish to make these and the recipe is plentiful.  I had enough for our family to enjoy for a few days and I also packaged them up in little bags along with some peanuts and gave them out to my coworkers on Valentine's Day.  Everyone absolutely loved them. 

Butter Mint Recipe
3 Tablespoons of Butter
1/4 Cup of Half and Half
1 Teaspoon Vanilla
2 Teaspoons Mint Extract
1 Pound of Powder Sugar
1-2 Drops of Food Coloring (optional)

In a small bowl, melt butter in the microwave.  Meanwhile, add the Half and Half, Vanilla and Mint into  the bowl of your stand mixer.  Add the Butter.  Next, add about a quarter of the powder sugar and mix well.  Turn off the mixer and add another quarter of the remaining sugar and then blend well.  Turn off the mixer again and add the remaining powder sugar and mix until well blended.  If desired, add your desired food coloring and mix one more time until the color is evenly disbursed.  The mixture should be the consistency of play-dough:  slightly damp, but not too dry.  

To shape, pinch a piece of dough off and roll into a small ball.  Then, on a clean surface, roll out the ball into a small log.  I rolled my dough out so that it was roughly the same width of my pinky finger.  Continue to do this until all the dough is rolled out.  Then, line the rolls up and slice pieces into a 1/4-inch to 1/2 inch pieces.    Place on a cookie sheet, uncovered, and let dry out for a minimum of 1 day.  The longer they air dry, the harder they will become - but will still melt in your mouth when eaten.

Yield:  I don't know.  It made a lot.  I used two jelly roll pans to dry them all out.  If I guessed, I would say it would fill 3 regular regular-sized sandwiched baggies.

I really, really liked these.  I know I will be making them again sometime soon.  I have some Cinnamon extract that I've been dying to use . . .and I think this would be a great recipe to try it out with (skip the Mint and use the Cinnamon).  

Monday, February 11, 2013

JELLO Pinwheels

Okay, I cannot lie:  I LOVE JELLO!!

There.  I said it.  I do. I really, really do.  Always have.  We ate it weekly when I was a kid.  Typically, it would be a Saturday night and served as a side dish with whatever sandwich we were eating for dinner.  Sometimes though, my mom would use it as an ingredient in other things - such as cookies or cake.  Those were delicious too.  But this post is for something I found while cruising the internet.  I found the recipe at .  It looked fun, cute and yummy - right up my alley.  Plus, half of my family isn't really too impressed with Jello in general.  My youngest is only two - so we'll see if he follows mom.  I'm hoping he enjoys these.  And if not, the recipe doesn't make a whole bunch - rather, enough for he and I to enjoy.  I used raspberry Jello - but this would yummy with whatever flavor floats your boat.

Gelatin Pinwheel/ Fruity Roll-Ups
1 (3 oz.) pkg. jello
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows

Lightly spray an 8 or 9 inch pan square pan with non-stick cooking spray and make sure it is spread well.
Stir together water and jello powder in a glass bowl and microwave for 1 minute.   Remove bowl and stir well making sure jello is dissolved.  If necessary, return to microwave for 20 seconds or so to make sure jello is dissolved and stir again.

Add marshmallows and return to microwave for 20-40 seconds or until marshmallows have just begun to puff.  This is the key to a successful marshmallow layer!  If you over cook the marshmallows, they just dissolve and your roll-up will not have two distinct layers.

Whisk quickly until marshmallows are dissolved.

Pour quickly into prepared pan and chill in fridge for 45 minutes or until well set.  Creamy layer will float to the top.

Remove the pan from fridge.  At this point,  the jello should be very firm and easy to handle.  Gently pull one side away from pan and lift entire sheet onto counter.  Starting at one end, roll up tightly.  With seam side down, cut into 10-12 (1/2) inch slices.  We found it easiest to cut with a piece of thread or dental floss.  Just put the string around roll-up, cross and pull.

Serve immediately or refrigerate until ready to serve.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Green Chile Chicken Enchiladas

Mmmmmmmmm . . .tender, shredded chicken.......savory green chiles.......creamy, melty monteray jack cheese .......... oh my, my.  This recipe is (singing) awesome!  And I cannot take credit for it.  I am merely passing it on.  I first enjoyed these enchiladas in college.  A friend of a friend used to make them.  Not sure what she's up to anymore, but I can assure you that I told my friend whom I do still keep in touch with that I made these enchiladas this week.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

Chicken Enchiladas
1 Cup Onion, diced
2 T Butter, 3 T Butter (5 in total)
4 oz Can of Green Chiles
1/4 Cup Flour
3/4 tsp Salt (optional)
1 Cup Sour Cream
1/2 Cup Green Bell Pepper, Diced
2 Cups Cooked Chicken, Shredded
1 T Ground Coriander
2 1/2 Cups Chicken Broth (I prefer low sodium)
1 1/2 Cups Monteray Jack Cheese, Shredded
12, 6-inch Flour Tortillas

In skillet, melt 2 T butter and add the onion and green pepper.  Saute until softened.  Transfer to large bowl and add the chicken and green chiles.  

In skillet, melt 3 T butter and stir in the flour and corriander.  It will form a thick paste or dough.  A little at a time, start adding the broth.  Stir in a little at a time and mix thoroughly with a whisk.  Continue to add a little broth at a time and keep whisking until all broth has been added and the sauce is smooth.  Once smooth, add the sour cream and 1/2 cup of cheese and whisk until sauce is nice and velvety and the sour cream and cheese is fully incorporated.  At this point, taste it.  If it needs salt - add the salt (all or part of it).  

Take 1/2 Cup of the sauce and add it to the chicken.  Stir together.

Grease a 9x 13 baking dish.  Take 1 cup of the sauce and spread it on the bottom of the pan.  

Fill each tortilla with approximately 1/4 cup of the filling and place in the pan as you go.  Make two rows of 6 rolled enchiladas.   

Pour remaining sauce over the top and sprinkle with the remaining cheese.

Bake uncovered for 25 minutes in 350 degree F oven.  

These can be made a day ahead of time and store in the fridge.  When ready to bake, bake covered for 1/2 hour and then remove the lid and bake for an additional 15 minutes.