Monday, July 14, 2008

Baked Ziti Primavera & Breakfast Sammy - 07/13/08

It's the eve of me leaving town to begin my trip to Europe, so I figured I would update the blog with my latest cookins before I take off.

Baked Ziti Primavera

First up is a form of baked ziti. You first cook up half a pound of ziti. Then you cook 2 chopped onions and some tomatoes together and pour this over the cooked pasta. Then you cook ground turkey with some thyme and oregano, then pour this on top of the pasta. Add in some canned green beans, broccoli and sour cream to put it all together. Pour this into a baking dish and sprinkle generously with permesan cheese. The recipe itself did not call for a lot of spice, so I made sure to use some garlic, salt and lots of Italian spices to give the dish some flavor. Bake everything in a 400 degree oven for about 25 minutes until brown and the cheese has melted. Many restaurants and recipes like to finish off their pasta sauces with some cream or milk for a creamier taste. I liked how this recipe used sour cream to prevent adding in so many calories and adding a little flavor. I liked the crispy edges on it and I would have liked more of those, but I'm sure that would have dried it all out. This dish makes a lot and is reasonably healthy, so it's perfect for families or even small get-togethers.

Breakfast Sammy

I didn't think much of this originally, but I loved this so much I wanted to post it. This is an awesome morning sandwich if you want a change of pace from cereal or run-of-the-mill toast and eggs. While some bread was toasting, I cooked up my eggs with some pepper and garlic salt. My two favorite egg cooking methods are poaching (tricky unless you have a poaching tray for your pan like I do, but that's for a different blog post )and what I affectionately call a half scramble but what others might see as over-hard. Over hard is pretty much over-easy eggs that are cooked through more and the yolks are broken. On a side note, if you like to dip your eggs, but you don't want them still a little runny in the whites, you can order them over-medium in any restaurant. As the eggs were finishing, I threw on a slice of mild cheddar cheese to let it melt a little. Once the toast was done, I sprayed it with butter (spray butter is easier than regular butter for me in the morning) and topped one piece with the eggs. I tried to keep all the eggs together in one lump so I did not have lots of little bits falling everywhere. Now, here comes the surprise: I put three slices of turkey pastrami. I know many people may have used bacon or even turkey bacon, but I had the random idea to use the pungent and spicy flavors of some turkey pastrami I had handy. I let the meat get a little brown on each side and then I put it on top of the eggs and cheese. This was, to my surprise, one of the best breakfast sandwiches I've tasted in a while. I've actually made it for the past few mornings with small variations in the spices because I liked it so much. Too much of a good thing? Never heard of it.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Easy Entertaining with David McDonello - 7/7/2008

I've had guests for nearly a week. Here are the goodies I made for them during their stay.

Ina Garten

To greet my friends when they arrived, I decided to make a nice treat. Ina Garten (the Barefoot Contessa) has a number of baking mixes out, so I decided to give this one a try. It is for PB&J bars (similar to ones I wanted to make on my own). One problem was I noticed something wrong with the directions, then I spied this sticker on the box:


Silly Ina Garten. Anyways, the mix was very straightforward and the bars were very addicting. The peanut butter taste was strong and they had raspberry jam, my second favorite after strawberry.

PB&J Bars

For the next day's breakfast, I made some outstanding waffles. I don't have a picture because they are too good not to eat immediately. They are very crisp on the outside and soft on the inside. If you want the recipe for yourself, it is here: Waffle recipe. Be sure to use buttermilk in the recipe for the perfect results.

Apple-Walnut Muffins

Breakfast the following morning featured some delicious apple-walnut muffins. They did not raise up into perfect Starbucks muffins and they were not super sweet, but they were still good nonetheless.


For dinner one night, we made gnocchi from scratched. Gnocchi are little pasta dumplings made from potatoes or potato flour. We chose the former and I will hopefully never had to use this method again. The gnocchi turned out pretty good, but the consistency was a little off and the recipe took forever. For the sauce, we mixed together some ground beef, ground pork, garlic salt, pepper, and vodka sauce. The sauce was very good and we were so hungry by the time we finished making it, I forgot to take a picture, so I had to take one of my second helping plate (sorry).

Pool Cake

Have you ever seen those recipe books next to the cash register in your local grocer? Well I bought one from Jell-O and Cool Whip that had this recipe in it. You pretty much bake a yellow cake and let it cool completely. Meanwhile, make two packets of berry blue Jell-O and refrigerate it for about 2 hours. Once the cake is cooled, invert it onto your serving plate or platter. Cut out a large portion of the cake's center (without going all the way through the cake). Pour the semi-solidified Jell-O into the cake. Return the cake to the fridge for another 2 hours. Frost the cake with room temperature Cool Whip. Decorate it with Teddy Grams, Graham Crackers, Swedish Fish, Life Savers, and any other candy you deem appropriate. Cocktail umbrellas would be cool too. This is a very nice cake for summer-themed events and it is nicely delicious, though some people may have an issue with the mixed textures. My friends had a great time and I'm hoping they'll visit again soon.