Archive for January, 2010

Tomato Sauce

Tomato Sauce


I love Italian food, and tomato sauce is something I use a lot in my kitchen.  There are so many different things you can make with basic tomato sauce, such as chicken parmesan, lasagna, baked pasta, pizza, or simply boiled pasta topped with tomato sauce and cheese.

I often use store bought tomato sauce (my favorite is Rao’s Tomato Basil), but tomato sauce is super easy to make from scratch.  It only requires a few ingredients, and most of them are pantry staples.

This is a simple recipe for basic tomato sauce.  The sauce takes less than 30 minutes to make, and then it just has to simmer for 30-45 minutes.  The recipe makes a lot of sauce, and it can be stored in the fridge for up to a week or in the freezer for several months.

Adapted from: The Food Network, Mario Batali

Tomato Sauce

(print recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 3-4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons dried thyme
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
  • 1 carrot, shredded (using a box grater)
  • 1 – 28-ounce can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes (including juice)
  • 1- 28-ounce can diced tomatoes (including juice)
  • 2 cups of chicken broth
  • Salt & pepper, to taste
  • ½ cup fresh basil, chopped

Directions:

  1. Sauté the onion in the olive oil over medium heat until translucent, but not brown (about 10 minutes).  Season with salt & pepper.
  2. Add the garlic, thyme, Italian seasoning, and carrot, and sauté 5 minutes more.
  3. Add the tomatoes, broth, and basil. Bring to a boil, and then lower the heat to just bubbling, stirring occasionally for 30-45 minutes.
  4. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  5. If you want your sauce to be less chunky, blend with an immersion blender.
  6. Serve immediately, or set aside for further use. The sauce may be refrigerated for up to one week or frozen for up to 6 months.

Serving idea: serve this tomato sauce with boiled pasta and top with parmesan cheese & parsley

Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

My favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe is the one on the back of the package of Nestle semisweet chocolate chips.  I’ve been making this recipe for as long as I can remember, and I’ll never get tired of it.  I’ve tried other chocolate chip cookie recipes, but I always end up coming back to this one.

Sometimes I’ll switch things up a bit by using half semisweet chocolate chips and half white chocolate chips.  You can also use less chocolate chips in the cookie and then dip them in melted chocolate chips (after they have cooled) or drizzle them with chocolate.  When I most recently made them, I used dark chocolate baking chunks instead of chocolate chips- yum!!

Recipe from: Nestle

Nestle Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies

(print recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 2  ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter or margarine, softened
  • ¾ cup granulated sugar
  • ¾ cup packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 large egg
  • 1 ½ cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 cup chopped nuts (optional)

Directions:

  1. PREHEAT oven to 375 degrees F.
  2. COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
  3. BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

Makes: 4-5 dozen cookies (depending on size)

Stuffed Peppers

Stuffed Peppers


I first made this recipe for Stuffed Peppers a few months ago and they were really good.  I originally found the recipe in the book “Cook Smart, Eat Well” by Cooking Light.  It’s a collection of easy and healthy recipes, and with each recipe, the book creates a simple menu so that you have a complete meal.  The book recommends serving these peppers with sugar snap peas and sautéed cabbage.  I didn’t feel like cabbage, so I just served steamed sugar snap peas on the side.  The peppers were just as good the second time around, and the snap peas were a great side dish.

The nice thing about this recipe is that it doesn’t require a lot of ingredients, and it is super easy to make.  You can use any color pepper (I used a mixture of red & green peppers).  The filling is a combination of ground sirloin, rice, sautéed onions, a few spices, and Parmesan cheese.  The second time making these, I omitted the wine and it didn’t affect the flavor at all.  The filling also requires jarred pasta sauce, so this is the perfect recipe to make if you have leftover sauce in the fridge that you need to use.  And, like all Cooking Light recipes, it is fairly low-calorie – only 347 calories per bell pepper!

Adapted from: Cooking Light, January 2003

Stuffed Peppers

(print recipe)

Ingredients:

  • 1  (3 ½ -ounce) bag boil-in-bag long-grain rice
  • 4  medium red bell peppers
  • ¾  pound  ground sirloin
  • 1  cup  chopped onion
  • ½  cup  chopped fresh parsley
  • 1  teaspoon  paprika
  • ½  teaspoon  salt
  • 1/8  teaspoon  ground allspice
  • 2  cups  bottled tomato-and-basil pasta sauce, divided
  • ½  cup grated fresh Parmesan cheese
  • ½  cup  dry red wine
  • Cooking spray

Directions:

  1. Preheat oven to 450°.
  2. Cook rice according to package directions, omitting salt and fat. Set aside.
  3. While rice cooks, cut tops off bell peppers; reserve tops. Discard seeds and membranes. Place peppers, cut sides down, in an 8-inch square baking dish; cover with plastic wrap. Microwave at high 2 minutes or until peppers are crisp-tender. Cool.
  4. Heat a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add beef, onion, parsley, paprika, salt, and allspice; cook 4 minutes or until beef is lightly browned, stirring to crumble. Remove from heat. Add rice, 1 cup pasta sauce, and cheese to beef mixture, stirring to combine.
  5. While beef cooks, combine 1 cup pasta sauce and wine in a small saucepan; bring to a boil.
  6. Spoon about ¾ cup beef mixture into each pepper. Place peppers in a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray; add wine mixture to pan. Cover with foil.
  7. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes. Uncover; bake an additional 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Serve peppers with sauce. Garnish with pepper tops, if desired.

Serves: 4

New feature on ‘Cooking with Karen’!

New Feature!

Printer-friendly versions of my recipes are now on the blog!  The printable versions just have the recipe (no text or photos), and they are formatted to PDF files.  To print a recipe, click on the “print this recipe” link.  The printable recipe will open up in a new window.  Then all you have to do is print it.

How to: Roast Red Peppers

Roasted Red Peppers

(print recipe)

Many recipes (including this vegetarian chili!) call for roasted red peppers.  You can purchase them in a jar, but they are super-easy to make at home.

I had a difficult time the first time I roasted red peppers, because the instructions I used were terrible.  The second time was so much easier, thanks to Cooking Light’s great directions.  Here they are:

Instructions from: Cooking Light

Directions

  1. Preheat broiler.
  2. Cut bell peppers in half lengthwise. Remove and discard seeds and membranes.
  3. Place pepper halves, skin sides up, on a foil-lined baking sheet. Broil until blackened (approximately 5-10 minutes- keep an eye on them!)
  4. Once blackened, remove peppers from oven, and using tongs, transfer pepper halves to a large ziplock plastic bag and seal.
  5. Let stand 15 minutes.
  6. By now the peppers should be cool enough to handle.  Using your fingers, peel the blackened skin off the peppers (it should peel off very easily).

Broil the peppers until the skin is blackened.

Let the peppers cool in a ziplock bag for 15 minutes.

Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili

Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili


I love vegetables, and sometimes I am in the mood for a vegetarian dish.  A few days ago, I was reading my current issue of Cooking Light Magazine (January 2010) and came across a recipe for vegetarian chili.  I love to make chili during the winter months, and this recipe has a lot of my favorite things in it: butternut squash, red peppers, chicken broth, cannellini beans, and kidney beans.  The combination of these ingredients (plus a few key spices) resulted in a very flavorful, delicious, and filling dish.   Technically speaking, this chili wasn’t vegetarian since I substituted chicken broth for vegetable broth, but I just love the flavor of chicken broth.  And, I always have chicken broth in my pantry because I buy it in bulk at Costco.

One of the best things about this chili recipe is that each 1 ½ cup serving is only 264 calories!!  Another benefit is that many of the ingredients were things I already had on hand (chicken broth, diced tomatoes, cannellini beans, kidney beans, garlic, onion, cumin, paprika, red pepper flakes), so it was very economical as well- the only things I had to pick up at the grocery store were squash, pinto beans, and red peppers.

The recipe calls for chopped scallions as a topping, but I decided to leave them out because I didn’t think it was necessary.  But if you are making this for other people, the scallions might be a nice touch to give the chili a pop of color and a little extra crunch on top.  Next time I’m also going to serve it with grated cheddar cheese on the side, because I think cheese would be a great topping as well!  This recipe is definitely a keeper and I can’t wait to make it again!

Adapted from: Cooking Light Magazine (Jan. 2010)

Three-Bean Vegetarian Chili

Ingredients:

  • 3  red bell peppers, roasted & chopped
  • 3  tablespoons  extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1  cup  chopped onion
  • 2  teaspoons  ground cumin
  • 1  teaspoon  crushed red pepper
  • 1  teaspoon  paprika
  • ½  teaspoon  salt
  • 4  garlic cloves, minced
  • 2  cups  chicken or vegetable broth
  • 1 ½  cups  (½ inch) cubed peeled butternut squash
  • 1  (28-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, undrained (or two 14-ounce cans)
  • 1  (15-ounce) can pinto beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1  (15-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1  (15-ounce) can red kidney beans, rinsed and drained

Directions:

  1. Roast the red peppers, then dice them.
  2. Heat a Dutch oven over medium-low heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add onion; cook 15 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  3. Stir in cumin, crushed red pepper, paprika, salt, and garlic. Cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently.
  4. Add bell peppers, broth, squash, and tomatoes; bring to a simmer. Cook 20 minutes, stirring occasionally.
  5. Add beans; simmer 25 minutes or until slightly thick, stirring occasionally.
  6. Sprinkle with green onions or cheddar cheese, if desired.

Serves: 6 (1 ½ cups chili each)

The combination of cannellini beans, pinto beans, & kidney beans provides lots of flavor.

Step 4: Add the bell peppers, broth, squash, & tomatoes to the pan and simmer for 20 minutes.

Step 5: Add the beans and simmer 25 minutes.

Butter Snowball Cookies

Butter Snowball Cookies


Every year when I get together with my Mom and sisters for the holidays, we bake Butter Snowball cookies.  Baking Christmas cookies during the holidays is one of our traditions, and Butter Snowballs are a favorite, along with Chocolate Crinkles, Candy cane cookies, and Sugar cookies.

This recipe was passed down from my Great Grandmother, and we have been making them for as long as I can remember.  My in-laws refer to these cookies as Russian Tea Cakes, and I’ve heard that they are known by other names as well.  Regardless of what you call them, they’re small, delicious, and melt in your mouth!

Recipe from: Great Grandma Brandt & Betty Crocker

Butter Snowball Cookies

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • ½  cup powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2  ¼ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¾ cup finely chopped nuts
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • Powdered sugar

Directions:

  1. Heat oven to 400ºF.
  2. Mix butter, ½ cup powdered sugar and the vanilla in large bowl.  Stir in flour, nuts and salt until dough holds together.
  3. Shape dough into 1-inch balls.  Place about 1 inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet.
  4. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until set but not brown.  Remove from cookie sheet.  Cool slightly on wire rack.
  5. Roll warm cookies in powdered sugar; cool on wire rack.  Roll in powdered sugar again.

Makes: 4 dozen cookies (recipe can be doubled)


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