Saturday, October 30, 2010

Cheesy Shell-Stuffed Shells w/ Vodka Cream Sauce

Where to start???  When I first saw the idea for jumbo shells stuffed with baby shells, I was pretty much mystified!  Once again, from my favorite, Noble Pig, I knew I had to give this one a try right away.  Holy moly, what a great recipe!  It's an impregnated shell smorgasbord!  I love how the baby shells break up the standard solid cheese filling you usually get with stuffed shells, yet you still get all the rich cheesy deliciousness!

Now I've never been too keen on the idea of vodka sauce.  Just the idea of VODKA on my pasta... it's always kinda turned me off.  But I decided to go with it this time and give it a try.  And let me tell you, if you haven't already tried it, it's fantastic!  You can't even taste the vodka, just GREAT flavor.  The recipe calls for a jar of sauce and she recommends the Emeril's brand.  But seeing as I was skeptical about the sauce to begin with, I decided to make it from scratch.  Based on a recommendation from my bestie, The Sassy Little Chef I went with a Rachel Ray recipe that was quick, easy, and oh so tasty!

So, if you are looking to try something that's takes classic flavors and puts a fun little spin on it, do try this one.  It's rich and wonderful without being to heavy.  Enjoy!

Cheesy Shell-Stuffed Shells
From Better Homes and Gardens

24 dried jumbo shell macaroni
8 oz. dried tiny shell macaroni (2 cups)
2 cups Gruyere cheese, shredded (8 oz.)
2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese (8 oz)
3/4 cup half-and-half
1/8 teaspoon white pepper or pepper
1 24 oz. jar vodka sauce (I hear Emeril's is great, but I made my own, see recipe below)
4 oz. mozzarella cheese, shredded (1 cup)
Fresh basil leaves, torn, for garnish

Preheat oven to 350 F. Cook jumbo shells according to package directions. Using a large slotted spoon, transfer shells to a colander. Rinse with cold water; drain well and set aside. In same pan cook tiny shells according to package directions. Drain; set aside.
Meanwhile, in a large saucepan combine Gruyere cheese, cheddar cheese, half-and-half and pepper. Heat over medium-low heat until cheese is melted and smooth, stirring frequently. Stir in tiny shells.
Spread 1/2 cup of the pasta sauce in the bottom of a 3-quart rectangular baking dish. Spoon cheese-shell mixture into drained jumbo shells; place stuffed shells in prepared baking dish. Top with remaining pasta sauce.
Bake, covered, for 30 minutes. Uncover and sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake, uncovered, about 15 minutes more or until heated through. Let stand 10 minutes before serving. Top with fresh basil and serve.

You Won't Be Single For Long Vodka Sauce
Recipe courtesy Rachael Ray

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil1 tablespoon butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 shallots, minced
1 cup vodka
1 cup chicken stock
2 cans crushed tomatoes (32 ounces)
Coarse salt and pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
Heat a large skillet over moderate heat. Add oil, butter, garlic, and shallots. Gently saute shallots for 3 to 5 minutes to develop their sweetness. Add vodka to the pan. Reduce vodka by half, this will take 2 or 3 minutes. Add chicken stock, tomatoes. Bring sauce to a bubble and reduce heat to simmer. Season with salt and pepper. Stir cream into sauce. When sauce returns to a bubble, remove it from heat.

Monday, October 25, 2010

Pumpkin Crumb Coffee Cake

Raise your hand if you LOVE pumpkin as much as I do!!!  This was the perfect weekend for the sweet aroma a fall wafting through the house.  It was storming outside, so I got to baking inside!  I saw this recipe on one of very most favorite blogs, Noble Pig (check it out, you'll LOVE it!) and knew I had to give it a try.  It was certainly a winner.  And if you're lucky, you'll have all the ingredients on hand.  My dearest stated, "Wow babe, I think this might be the best baked good you've ever made for breakfast!"  That's a big, even if I haven't made that many baked goods for breakfast.  Enjoy!

Pumpkin Crumb Coffee Cake

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
Pinch of salt
1-1/2 teaspoons cinnamon
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter, cold, cut into pieces

Cake:2 cups all-purpose flour
1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 Tablespoon cinnamon
2 teaspoons ground ginger
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/3 cup vegetable oil
3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
1 15 ounce can pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/2 cup packed dark brown sugar
2 large eggs, at room temperature, lightly beaten
For the topping, in a bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, salt and cinnamon. Add butter and combine with fingertips until mixture is crumbly. Refrigerate while making batter.
Preheat oven to 350o F. Butter and flour a 9 x 13 cake pan. In a small bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and spices. In a large bowl, whisk together oil, applesauce, pumpkin, vanilla and both sugars until well mixed. Whisk in eggs. Add flour mixture to pumpkin mixture and stir until just combined; do not overmix. Pour batter into cake pan and spread evenly. Sprinkle with reserved topping.
Bake cake until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean, 45-50 minutes. Allow to cool in pan on a wire rack at least 20 minutes.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Cheesy Chicken & Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

Long Time No Blog!  I've been meaning to stop by and post something, anything for quite sometime now.  So here goes...

I threw together this Cheesy Chicken & Black Bean Enchilada Casserole in no time.  You can totally alter it to suit your tastes.  Be creative, have fun & enjoy!

Cheesy Chicken & Black Bean Enchilada Casserole

Chicken (you can use leftover chicken, rotisserie chicken, or season & saute, shred, chop however you want it)
Enchilada Sauce (red or green - I used red)
Black beans, drained, and rinsed
Cheese (I uses a combo of jack, sharp cheddar, and crumbled cojita for the top)
Corn tortillas

Those are the basic ingredients, you can add more to spice it up if you so desire.

Mix together your chicken, corn, and black beans.

To assemble, pour a little of your enchilada sauce in the bottom of your casserole dish.  Then do a layer of tortillas (it's ok if they are overlapping a little.  I also like to cut them in half to make placing easier and coat them in the enchilada sauce), add some sauce, top with a layer of chicken, add a layer of cheese, then cover with more sauce and repeat.  Stop before you add the last layer of cheese.  You should end with chicken and then sauce.  Cover with foil and bake at 350 for about 45min.  Then remove foil, add your final layer of cheese and bake for 15-20 more min.