Saturday, May 23, 2009

Broccoli Sausage Pasta

A friend of mine (the one who has taken great pictures of food for me in previous posts) went out of town this week. She had some produce that was going to go bad and so she asked me if I wanted to take it off her hands. Which OF COURSE I did!!! So a head of broccoli was one of the items she handed me and I thought it would be a tasty treat to make it for dinner in some kind of pasta dish. So I searched for recipes and came across this from Running With Tweezers! It sounded tasty and quick to throw together so I thought I would give it a whirl. My husband and I actually have company staying with us for a couple weeks, and she liked the dish a lot! My husband and I will have to for sure make this one again, it was so tasty and so easy!

Broccoli Sausage Pasta

(recipe from Running With Tweezers)

1 lb. ground Italian sausage
1 16 oz. Piccolini (mini Farfalle)
12 oz. fresh broccoli - rinsed, dried and cut into florets
1 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 lemon to use for zest
1 tsp. dried red chili flakes
fresh ground salt and pepper, to taste
freshly grated Parmesan cheese, optional

Fill large pasta pot with water and heat until water is at rolling boil. Add pasta to water and cook according to product directions. About 3 minutes before pasta is done, add the broccoli florets. They will blanch quickly in the pasta water. When pasta is cooked, drain and set aside.

While pasta is cooking, crumble sausage in a large skillet into large chunks and begin to brown. Let them brown and caramelize in the pan. When thoroughly browned and cooked through, DO NOT DRAIN THE FAT. This is your sauce.

Pour cooked and drained pasta & broccoli back into the pasta pot and add the sausage, including the oil and such at the bottom of the skillet. Drizzle the mixture with the teaspoon of extra virgin olive oil and mix thoroughly. If the pasta is too dry for your liking, add olive oil as desired. Sprinkle red chili flakes on pasta. Zest lemon over pasta and add salt and pepper to taste then mix all the ingredients together one last time. Grate Parmesan over the pasta before serving. Serve immediately.

Friday, May 22, 2009

Roasted Garlic Hummus

Dear Hummus,
Oh how I love thee...let me count the ways!!

I only recently (recently being since I moved out on my own) have fallen in love with hummus. It is amazing stuff! I love it plain, on crackers - carrots - celery, on sandwiches (try it in place of mayo!), and it even makes a mean (and healthier) chicken salad! I have been wanting to try making homemade hummus for a long time, but just really never got around to it. Since I was on a detox recently, for what seemed like an eternity, I had leftover chick peas. I finally told myself last weekend that the time was long overdue and I was making a date with my chick peas and food processor!! Oh my was this stuff good! I probably made way too much of it, but don't's almost gone!! haha This hummus was so creamy, and it had just the right amount of garlic for us, but we are garlic lovers so you may want to lesson the amount if you don't like as much garlic.

I researched a lot of recipes to get ideas, and while I have not one single source to credit, I want to take an opportunity to thank all the websites I looked at for giving me tips on coming up with a hummus recipe that will now be a staple in my household! I knew I had a certain amount of ingredients I wanted to use, so I just built something that worked for us. And I really am a little of this and a little of that kinda girl, so I just played around with the recipe a bit until I got it to my liking.

Roasted Garlic Hummus
(recipe inspired by many others, but perfected by Liesl)
8 cloves of garlic
2 15 oz cans chick peas (drained and rinsed)
2/3 cup Tahini
Juice from 3 lemons
1 cup of water (maybe a little less)
1/4 cup olive oil
sea salt and fresh cracked pepper
parsley to garnish (optional)
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spray a small piece of aluminium foil with olive oil cooking spray (non stick would work too). Place cloves of garlic on foil and fold edges together, creating a foil pouch. Place in oven and roast garlic for about 15-20 minutes or until garlic is fork tender.
In a food processor (I think you could probably get away with using a blender too), combine the roasted garlic cloves, chick peas, tahini and fresh squeezed lemon juice. Pulse until smooth...mixture will be thick. Slowly add olive oil and continue processing. Once the olive oil is combined, slowly add the water...I started by slowly pouring in about 1/4 cup at a time until I got the consistency I wanted...which I am pretty sure was about 1 cup. But you may need less than that, just process until smooth. Add salt and pepper to taste.

Serve in your favorite dish. Top with parsley if desired. This will keep well, covered, in the fridge for about 1 week. I wouldn't push it to much longer than that.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Classic Spritz Cookies

I really love cookies. They are the one treat that always seems to satisfy my sweet tooth in one bite...but that doesn't mean I only eat just one!! I love that cookies are small, easy to transport, most of the time quick to make, and it's something that you can easily make because 99% you have most of the ingredients already on hand. Oh and I can't forget the dough factor...who doesn't love a spoonful of good cookie dough!! :o)

Growing up, my mom always made Spritz cookies. I never really appreciated the cookies flavor as a kid. I remember always complaining to my mom, "Mom, did you make them with butter this time? I hate butter, why can't you use margarine!" For some reason, as a kid I HATED the taste of butter! I should have known by that, that as an adult I was going to be some kind of foodie! Every now again though, my mom would break down and thrown in the margarine for me...and naturally the plate of cookies would be gone within minutes!!!

That being said, these were always one of my favorite cookies growing up. Butter or Margarine...I loved watching my mom fill up her old cookie press with dough and then proceed to squeeze out intricate little shapes. It fascinated me! The cookies were so delicate, and the shapes so unique. Truly an art form all in the press of a hand. My favorite shapes were the Christmas Tree and Christmas mom always put food coloring in the dough too and it amazed me! Just like food coloring in milk...something about it makes kids want to drink it!

I actually tried to do some research on these cookies, but have had a hard time. I think I remember hearing stories from my mom about these cookies being a German tradition. I have a very German background, and my mom actually taught and lived there for several years. I am going to continue my searches and try to find out more information about these cookies, because
I am really fascinated (yes lol still as an adult!) about these beauties!

Ok enough already...I know on to the cookies! Well it's been raining a lot in Tennessee here lately, and being stuck inside seems to "force" you into your kitchen more! So I got to thinking about these cookies and all the shapes and thought to myself..."I should make umbrellas and butterflies in lieu of all this weather". A couple of months ago I hosted a Pampered Chef Party. The only thing I was set on getting that day was my cookie press!! I have always wanted one and the Pampered Chef version looked like a good one!

So I bought it and anxiously awaited the perfect time to make my first attempt at Spritz Cookies! And I am pleased to WILL NOT be my last! They cookies turned out fantastic, and I can't wait to make them again...and yes I used butter! ;o)

Classic Spritz Cookies
(from Pampered Chef)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) butter or margarine, softened
1 cup sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla
3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
Colored sugar or sprinkles (optional, but HIGHLY recommended!)
Preheat oven to 375°F.
In Classic Batter Bowl (aka-a mixing bowl), beat butter on medium speed of electric mixer until creamy. Add sugar, egg and vanilla; beat well. Add flour, 1 cup at a time; mix well. Dough will be soft; do not refrigerate.
Fill Cookie Press, fitted with disk of your choice. Press dough onto ungreased cookie sheet 1 inch apart. Decorate cookies with colored sugar or sprinkles, if desired.
Bake 10-12 minutes or until firm but not brown. Cool 2 minutes on cookie sheet; remove to cooling rack. Repeat with remaining dough.
I really hope you guys get the chance to try these cookies out. They are so soft and so delicious!

I gave my friend Kristen cookies to take home and she generously came back with these lovely pictures!! She is too good to me! I do have a birthday coming up so maybe I will get a new camera then!! In the meantime, thanks Kritsen, you are a great photographer!

Monday, May 11, 2009

Mexican Black Bean Lettuce Wraps

My husband and I are really trying to drop a few pounds. We kinda went off our healthy eating/working out routine without meaning too. So we just wanted to do something to jump kick our butts back into gear! Awhile back I tried the detox from The Fat Smash Diet with a friend of mine. The detox is the first phase of the diet and it lasts for 9 days. You can't really eat much outside of beans and brown rice (which forces you to become creative!), but my favorite part of this detox is that you can eat all the fruits and veggies you want! Anyhow, I felt so good the last time I did it and I dropped a good amount of weight too! So here I am trying it again!

I needed something last week to boost my energy level back up. We had been working out so hard and I think my body was craving some hard core protein. So I decided to try out something new. It is hard to come up with new ideas to use beans...but this one turned out pretty good! The flavor was great...something I would actually eat when I wasn't dieting! I actually think that if you didn't want to use mustard that you could try even using white wine vinegar for flavor too! Maybe I will try that next time!

Mexican Black Bean Lettuce Wraps
(recipe from the kitchen of Liesl)
For sauce:
juice of one lime
juice of one lemon
splash of spicy mustard
1 teaspoon cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
dash of pepper
2 tablespoons olive oil
For salad:
2 cans of black beans, drained and rinsed
1 can of corn (no salt added), drained and rinsed
2 small tomatoes, seeded and diced
fresh cilantro, chopped finely
1/4 cup red onion, finely chopped
Romaine leaves, washed and cut from stem
In a small container that has a lid, combine all ingredients for your sauce. Put lid on container and shake to combine all ingredients. In another bowl combine all ingredients for the salad. Stir together. Pour sauce over salad mixture and stir to combine with salad. Refrigerate for 1 hour for flavors to combine.
To assemble:
Take a Romaine leaf and carefully place a generous amount of the salad in the middle. Roll the sides of the lettuce leaf up over the middle.

Thursday, May 7, 2009

Help Name My Sauce?

I wanted to share the dipping sauce I made to go along with my fried pickles. However, I can't seem to come up with a name for this sauce...maybe you can help?

This dip is so easy you won't believe it. It is so good would think only two ingredients wouldn't taste this good, but they do!

Dipping Sauce?
(recipe from the kitchen of Liesl)
1 small container of lite sour cream
1/2 cup of your favorite salsa
In a shallow dish, fill with sour cream. Top with salsa. Slightly stir the salsa in the middle to mix just barely with the sour cream. Dip away! This would be good not only on fried pickles, but poppers, mozzarella sticks, french fries...really anything fried!! :o)

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Deep Fried Pickles

Disclaimer - YES I LIVE IN THE SOUTH!! Where we love to eat all things fried!! :o) I don't really remember where or when my love for fried pickles started, but when it did...oh my...Vlasic look out!!!

Let me just tell you that if you have never tried a fried pickle, let this be your opportunity to live on the edge! These little guys are sooo good! And the sauce I make with them is out of this world good...if you're lucky I will post that next!

When I went over to my friend, Kristen's, I wanted to have a fun little appetizer for us to snack on since I knew the Deep Dish Pizza was going to take awhile to bake. I had been looking at other food blogs that day and happened to stumble across these! I couldn't help but click on them because I remembered being a kid and going to the county fair and seeing all the things they served always amazed me what some of those stands were throwing in their fryers! I got to looking on her blog, she has apparently fried just about everything out there, when I stumbled across the pickles! I knew right away I wanted to make them...and I was even more curious to see if my friends had ever tried them. They actually hadn't, but I think I have converted their taste buds...we went through a whole jar of pickles!! LOL

*I did make changes to the recipe, mine are listed below.*

Deep Fried Pickles

20(ish) Vlasic Dill Pickle Slices (dried see below)
2 Eggs
1/2 Milk
3/4 Flour
1 Tablespoon Garlic Powder
1 Tablespoon Cayenne
1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
Dash of salt and pepper
1 to 1 1/2 cups Panko Bread Crumbs
Salt to season after frying (optional)
Vegetable Oil for frying (I used a whole container)
*To dry the pickles...drain the pickles and lay on paper towels. Put more paper towels on top to absorb the liquid.**
In a small shallow bowl mix the milk and egg together. In another small shallow bowl mix the flour, cayenne, onion, salt and pepper and garlic together. In the last bowl add the Panko crumbs. One at a time dip the pickles into the egg mixture then into the flour. Shake off the excess flour and dip back into the egg then cover in the Panko crumbs. Lay the covered pickles in a single layer onto a baking sheet, when all pickles have been covered place the tray into the freezer for 1 hour (this will ensure the coating sticks to the pickle in the deep fryer). Heat vegetable oil to 375 degrees in deep pan. Cook a single layer of pickles at a time until they float and brown in color...about 5 minutes. Place on paper towel to drain. Sprinkle with salt if desired. Serve with my secret sauce...stay tuned tomorrow! You don't want to miss this EASY AMAZING sauce!
*Photography by Kristen Wiltse*

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Deep Dish Pizza

I have always wanted to make Deep Dish Pizza, and I am so glad I did and I get to share it with all of you! I was born in a small town just outside of Chicago called Hammond, Indiana. One of my best memories as a child was going into the city for pizza. I loved their deep dish pizza. All the layers and the crust ... oh so delicious! There is something about it that just so much tastier than a "normal" Papa John's pizza! :o) Not that I have anything against a good ole Papa John's Pizza, I just love me some deep dish!

I was always a little nervous about trying to master the deep dish, because of the crust. I know that deep dish pizza has a special crust that is hard to master! But thanks to all the deep dish I have had in my past, I know what good crust should taste like!

So, when I finally decided to conquer this task, I did A LOT of research on recipes! And trust me there are a lot out there to choose from. I really didn't have much to go by other than the list of ingredients, so I kinda just picked one that sounded like it would taste good (pictures helped me too!) I really did like this dough. It had the texture that I remember so well as a kid. The only thing I would have done differently about this crust was rolled it out a little thinner. It got a little thick in the creases and was somewhat difficult to cut through. But remember...Deep Dish is not meant to be a delicate pizza! You need a fork and knife to eat it! Enjoy!!

Deep Dish Pizza
(adapted from Two Peas and Their Pod)
For the Crust:
4 Cups Flour
1 Cup Milk
1 Tbsp. Butter
1 Tbsp. Sugar
1 tsp. Salt
1 Package Instant Dry Yeast
About 1 cup of water-add a little at a time until you get the right dough consistency
Scald milk. Add butter, sugar and salt. Allow milk mixture to cool to "warm." Add yeast and mix thoroughly.

Using a Kitchen Aid mixture with your dough hook, add milk mixture. Slowly add flour until the dough pulls away from the side of the bowl and forms a ball. Add water, a little at a time, until the dough combines. Knead dough for 5-10 minutes. Cover and allow dough to rise for 2 hours. Punch down the dough, knead briefly, and allow to rise and additional 2 hours until approximately doubled in bulk.
For Pizza:
Your favorite Pizza Sauce (if you use jars you probably want 2)
I pack of Shredded Mozzarella Cheese (next I will use fresh!)
Whatever toppings you choose...we did spicy sausage, mushrooms, and pepperoni
To assemble:
Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
Spray a 10 inch springform pan with non stick cooking spray (you could use a cast iron skillet which may taste better, but I thought it would be easier in a springform). Roll the crust to fit the pan. The edges should come to the top of the pan. Take a little bit of sauce and put it on the bottom. Put some cheese on the bottom. Take some of the sauce and spread it on the cheese. Add whatever toppings you like. Take more of the cheese and spread a layer. Add a lot of sauce to the top. Sprinkle with extra cheese if you wish. Bake 45 minutes to 1 hour or until crust is cooked and cheese is bubbly!
This pizza was so delicious! I actually can't wait to make it again! It had the perfect combination of sauce and cheese and toppings! I really hope you give it a try...IT IS SO WORTH IT!

**I have send out a great big THANK YOU to Kristen Wiltse for taking photo's of my food! I don't have a great camera and she is always so willing to be at my mercy :o) for great photos! But have no worries...I always feed her!**

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Mexican Lasagna

This recipe was actually one I made a couple of weeks husband was getting ready to go on his school trips and we were so busy that I needed something quick and easy for dinner (something that I knew would have leftovers too!!). I found this recipe on For the Love of Cooking blog and thought it sounded very easy and delicious! I love Mexican food, it's one of my weaknesses! Especially salsa and chips!! haha

This Lasagna was a great go to recipe for a dinner that you know you don't have a lot of time for but want something that is tasty. We actually didn't add the Guacamole, just because I am not a big fan, but I found a sour cream at the grocery store that was flavor was Guacamole so we tried that with it and it was GREAT!
Mexican Lasagna
3-4 flour tortillas
Cheddar cheese, grated
Refried Beans
Black beans
Canned Corn
Tomatoes, diced
Black olives, sliced
Green onions, sliced
Fresh cilantro, chopped
Guacamole (optional)
Sour Cream (optional)
For the Turkey:
1 lb lean ground turkey
1 tsp olive oil
1 small sweet yellow onion, diced
3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 tsp paprika
1 tsp chili powder
1 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp garlic powder
Sea salt and fresh cracked pepper, to taste
Dice and prepare all vegetables for the lasagna. Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot add the ground turkey and break up until it's in small crumbles. Add the onion and seasonings then mix thoroughly. Cook until the meat is done and the onion is tender, about 6-7 minutes. Add the minced garlic and stir constantly for 60 seconds. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Coat a baking dish with cooking spray. Add some salsa to the bottom of the baking dish and coat evenly. Next add a flour tortilla, they made need trimmed to fit in your dish. I used a 9x9 inch glass dish and they needed trimmed just slightly. Spread refried beans over the entire tortilla then add cheese, ground turkey, black beans, tomatoes, corn, black olives, a bit of green onion then spread some salsa over the top. Add another flour tortilla and repeat the layering process 2- 3 times.
On the final layer, add the tortilla, a thick layer of salsa and cheddar cheese then sprinkle the top with black olive slices.
Cover and bake in the oven for 25 minutes. Remove lid (or tin foil) and bake for an additional 5-7 minutes or until the cheese melts and gets golden brown. Let sit for 5 minutes before slicing. Top with fresh guacamole and sliced green onions. Enjoy.

Friday, May 1, 2009


So I wanted to say sorry for being gone so long! Man it's been forever! I actually have recipes stored that I can't wait to share with you! It's been a crazy couple of weeks. My husband was out of town and while he was gone I was hard core planning his big 30th birthday surprise. I had decided way back last year that I was going to take him to New York for his 30th. We love NY! It's one of our favorite places to go! We try to go as much as we can...if nothing else just to eat (and shop!). But for his birthday I wanted to make it extra special and was able to get his family in on the big surprise! They flew to NY before us and were waiting at the hotel to surprise Lee when we got there! He was thrilled when he found out we were going to NY, but couldn't believe his eyes when we got to the hotel and his mom, gram, sister and dad were there waiting! It was a great trip and I am glad his family was there to help us celebrate!

Here are just a few treats we enjoyed while in NY!

This was the birthday was amazing! Look at the layers in that lasagna!
YUM! I got the trio...
it came with Fettuccine, Lasagna and a Veal Ravioli!
Tiramisu :o)

My favorite Pizza place in Brooklyn! I never can eat enough of it when we go!

CRUMBS!!! The best cupcakes on the face of this planet!
I am back, and soon to be posting some great recipes! So stay tuned...