Monday, June 30, 2008

Reese's Brownies and Barbecue Tofu

Didn't plan these but they were what ended up cooking in Nummy Kitchen today. The husband had been asking (begging, bugging, whichever) for something sweet...I got out my Betty Crocker Cooky Book, a favorite of mine, and found some brownies that sounded easy and yummy, and all of the ingredients were at my disposal, so why not? Also at my disposal was a package of "Mini Reese's Pieces for Baking" so I added those in. Now if these brownies were for *me* they would be coconut caramel cheesecake brownies with macadamia nuts, but picky husband does not like coconut, cheesecake, or macadamia nuts :( Yeah, I married boring food man. Oh-well.

My basic brownies with Mini Reese's were wonderful! I am always amazed when I try a recipe from Betty Crocker's Cooky Book, it is a reprinted version of the original from 1963 with all of the old illustrations and photos and nostalgic recipes with silly names such as "Teen-time chocolate nut bars," how cute is that? Anyway, what amazes me is that every recipe I've tried turns out perfectly tastey morsels that rival in taste anything prepared out of today's cookbooks. I guess I'm surprised that with all of our advances in, well, everything, recipes for yummy treats from forty something years ago still taste good, even great!

Dinner was not really planned, just something that sounded good for a nice summer evening. I had some Melissa's Organic Tofu Cutlets in the fridge and a new barbecue sauce, World Harbors Apple Maple, that I wanted to try, and also a half a bottle of Sweet Baby Ray's Hickory Brown Sugar Barbecue that I wanted to use up...mmmm barbecue tofu! Husband grilled himself up some meat, I did the tofu in the oven on the broil setting, it was so simple to prepare I won't even bother telling you how to do it. I also made some super simple foil packet butter potatoes to grill. What a delicious dinner! As for the barbecue sauce taste off, Sweet Baby Ray's won by a landslide. Husband preferred it on his meat and I preferred it on the tofu. World Harbors Apple Maple was way too sweet and not spicey enough, and it sounded so good :(



Sunday, June 29, 2008

Cheddar Pistachio Cheese Ball

Who doesn't love a cheese ball? This is a really basic cheese ball recipe that I slightly modified and now it is a favorite requested at all parties and sometimes just for munchie night. This makes 2 medium sized cheese balls.

2 - 8 ounce packages cream cheese, softened
3 cups freshly shredded sharp cheddar
1/2 to 1 cup finely shredded cheese of your choice; pepper jack, swiss, provolone, whatever you have in the fridge
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 - 1 ounce package Hidden Valley Ranch dressing mix
2 tablespoons sour cream

Beat the cream cheese until fluffy, mix in the dressing mix, then add the remaining ingredients and beat until well blended.

Now is the time to shape your cheese balls, it's best to do this by hand. Put them in the fridge for a few hours or better yet overnight. Before you plan to serve these roll them in chopped nuts, I like 3/4 cup chopped pistachios and 1/4 cup chopped almonds. Serve with crackers, veggies, toasted pita triangles, whatever you'd like.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Cavatappi with Artichoke Hearts and Parmesan Cream

I've been debating starting a food/cooking blog for over a year so I am really excited to make my first post. I think it will be so much fun to share with others what is cooking in my kitchen and participate in food blogging events. I made this dish last week and it was delicious, and the above picture has to be one of my favorite food pictures that I have taken. I figured I'd start my blog with this dish. It's a delicious combination of my a few of my favorites -- pasta, artichokes, and cream sauces, endulgent but totally worth is.

Here is the original recipe from ...

Fusilli with Artichoke Hearts and Parmesan Cream

2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup heavy cream
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon fresh-ground black pepper
2 1/2 cups canned, drained artichoke hearts, rinsed and cut into halves or quarters
3/4 pound fusilli
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons chopped chives, scallion tops, or parsley


In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over moderately low heat. Add the garlic and cook for 30 seconds. Stir in the cream, salt, pepper, and artichoke hearts. Cook until just heated through, about 3 minutes.In a large pot of boiling, salted water, cook the fusilli until just done, about 13 minutes. Drain the pasta and toss with the cream sauce, Parmesan, and chives.

My changes: I went to the store for fussili, couldn't find any, and decided cavatappi would make a fine substitute. My only other changes were omitting the peper (I have never cared for black peper and leave it off most recipes) and sauteeing the quartered artichoke hearts in the butter garlic mixture for a minute or two to help them absorb the flavor before adding the cream. Also I almost always make a whole box of pasta, and then just plate it first and then add the sauce, I know some dishes taste better if you mix the pasta and sauce first, but I prefer it served this way.

This was an amazing dish. At first I thought it sounded almost too simple, and I thought the end result would be a little boring to the palate. I could not have been more wrong. I am an artichoke heart fan and this is a new favorite recipe featuring them.

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