Friday, February 10, 2012

In which Dinner and Dessert are just the best

Yesterday, my mom and younger brother came to visit! My mom has been cooking for 7 kids for the last 28 years, and I was very glad to make her a delightful meal to enjoy.

Turns out, the small dessert I chose to make was only the BEST DESSERT IN THE WORLD: Outside-In-Carrot-Apple-Cream-Cheese-Muffins. This is too long to say so I have shortened it to "Outside-In-Muffins".

*drool*

The original recipe I found was just for carrot muffins, but I put some apple in as well. It added some extra moisture and sweetness that was just tooo diiiiie fooooor.

1 carrot and 1 apple, grated in a bowl:
Wet ingredients, whipped up:
Dry ingredients, pre-mixing:
After dry and wet ingredients are stirred (not beaten or mixed, just stirred), and carrots/apples added, put one spoonful of batter in the bottoms of muffin liners.
I like using muffin liners for several reasons -
1. I hate having to wash out a muffin tin
2. less chance for burning on the bottoms
3. less fat since you don't have to grease the bottoms of paper liners.
Put a dollop of cream cheese mixture on top (oops, forgot to take a picture of that stuff!), then cover with another spoonful of batter.
Bake for 20 mins at 400 degrees, and ohlala your kitchen will smell delightful and your husband will tell you how good you are at things!

I ate two, it couldn't be helped!
I think next time, I will put more of the filling on the inside - I had a lot leftover but I wasn't sure how much was too much. So when you make them, don't be nervous! - more cream cheese!

And, I made stuffed shells! The original plan was lasagna, but as often happens to me, I didn't have what I needed - i.e. actual lasagna. I did, however, have three boxes of shells (don't ask me why there are three) and so I made those instead. I love stuffed shells because they are really easy, and as long as you have some cheese and ground meat, you can really add anything else you want to the mixture. The ones I made last night are very 'traditional' - ground beef, ricotta, parmesan, garlic, parsley, oregano, mozz, sauce.

After cooking the ground beef, mix your ingredients into a bowl. If you know anything about me, I am the oppposite of a measuring-cup-lady. I added extra salt and garlic and parsley to the mix until I liked the way it tasted, then mixed the beef in. I have tried to approximate the amounts I used in my recipe below, but you can always start with a small amount, then continue adding until you like the taste.
Cook the shells first (directions are on the box if you are not familiar with how to cook pasta?...) and then spoon the mix inside each.
Pour some sauce in the bottom of your pan to keep from sticking, put the stuffed shells in, cover in sauce, and sprinkle mozz on top. I added a little grated asiago as well, since I somehow still have quite a large chunk of it in my fridge. Bake, and eat! Your thighs will not thank you for this, but hey - that's what the gym is for.

Outside-In-Muffins
Filling Ingredients:
-8 oz cream cheese (if it is very cold, take off the wrapping and microwave for 30-40 seconds until softened)
-1/4 cup granulated sugar

Batter Ingredients:
-1 cup of grated apple and carrot (1 small apple and 1 medium carrot should do the trick)
-2 1/4 cups flour
-1/2 cup granulated sugar
-¼ cup light brown sugar, firmly packed
-1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
-¼ teaspoon baking soda
-1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
-3/4 teaspoon ground ginger
-3/4 teaspoon salt
-2 eggs
-3/4 cup water
-1/3 cup vegetable oil

Directions:
-Preheat oven to 400 degrees
-Line muffin tin with paper liners (if you are not using liners, grease the muffin tin)
-Mix filling ingredients (cream cheese and sugar) in a blender until smooth, set aside (don't refrigerate before using)
-In a large bowl, mix together dry ingredients
-In a smaller bowl, whip together the wet ingredients (eggs, water, oil)
-Pour the wet ingredients into the dry, slowly stirring until mixed.
-Add carrot/apple and stir slowly until mixed.
-Spoon batter into paper liners, covering the bottom of each
-Spoon filling on top of the batter (you will probably have some leftover)
-Spoon remaining batter on top of the filling (again, you will probably have a little leftover).
-Bake for 20 mins
-Relish your wonderful baking abilities!

Stuffed Shells
Ingredients
-1 box of pasta shells (for the amount this recipe makes, you only need to cook about half the box)
-1 lb ground beef
-15 oz ricotta cheese (a small container)
-1/3 cup parmesan cheese
-2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
-1 T parsley
-1 T oregano
-1/2 t salt
-Red sauce (however much you use depends entirely on you)
-1/4 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

Directions
-Cook the ground beef, set aside to cool
-Cook pasta shells, drain, set aside to cool
-Mix ricotta, parmesan, garlic, parsley, oregano, and salt (add more or less to taste)
-Stir in ground beef
-Preheat oven to 400
-Spoon a small amount of sauce onto the bottom of a 9x13 pan (this will keep your shells from getting crusty or sticking)
-Stuff each shell individually (a heaping spoonfull usually does the trick) and set into pan
-Cover with sauce and mozz
-Bake at 400 for 30 mins, or until hot all the way through.
-Voila! You should have been an italian!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

I make some quick delights

Last week, I had two mangos, an avocado, and some cilantro all about to go bad so I whipped up some quick salsa!
Mango Avocado Salsa
Ingredients
2 mangos
1 avocado
1/4 fine chopped cilantro
Juice from half a lime (or more, if you like)
2T olive oil
Pinches of salt

Directions
Mix it together and eat it!

One of my favorite places to shop is called Produce Junction - everyone else who does not live in my general vicinity is jealous without knowing it, since this is the greatest place ever. PJ sells produce in bulk quantities at pretty much 1/2 the cost of any grocery store. The only drawback is that everything comes in large quantities, so you need to come up with ways to eat all of that healthy food (tragedy, I know). So, I had a giant bag of broccoli florets ($2, no big deal) in my fridge and made some broccoli salad. I found this recipe last summer and it is so.good.
Best Broccoli Salad Ever
Ingredients
1 head fresh chopped broccoli
1/2 cup raisins (optional)
1/4 cup chopped onion (optional)
2 T white sugar
3 T white wine vinegar
1 cup Mayonnaise
Chopped bacon or bacon bits (optional)

Directions
-You can really make this with just broccoli, but adding some onions and/or raisins and/or bacon definitely turns it up a notch!
-Mix the sugar, vinegar, and mayo in a bowl
-Add broccoli/raisins/onions/bacon
-Refrigerate a few hours before serving - always better if it can sit overnight
-Enjoy!