Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Manicotti in Minutes

Boy, do I love Manicotti.  I might even love it more than lasagna or stuffed shells.  But whats not love???  Giant pasta tubes filled with the perfect blend of spinach and ricotta cheese, smothered in red sauce and topped with more cheese.... Man oh man.  A good little tip...use either a pastry bag or a zip lock bag to pipe the stuffing in the shells, it's so much easier than trying to get that filling in there with a spoon.
  More great things about Manicotti:
 1.  They're even better the next day.
 2.  They freeze up really nice.
Manicotti Trivia  Manicotti means "Sleeves" in Italian. .... so.... roll up your sleeves and start filling those sleeves.  Don't forget to throw the leftovers in the freezer so you can enjoy those  Manicotti's today, tomorrow and a few weeks from now!

Print Here


  • 3 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 1 clove Garlic, Minced
  • 1 can 28-Ounce Ground Peeled Tomatoes, Chunky Style
  • ½ cups Chicken Broth Or Stock
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 1 teaspoon Sugar
  • 1 pinch Pepper, Ground
  • 6 whole Basil Leaves, Chopped
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Small Onion Chopped
  • 1 package Spinach, ( 10 Ounce Frozen, Thawed And Squeezed Dry)
  • 15 ounces, weight Ricotta Cheese
  • 1 whole Egg, Lightly Beaten
  • ¼ cups Parmesan Cheese, Grated
  • ½ teaspoons Salt
  • 1 package Manicotti Shells (14 shells)
  • ½ cups Mozzarella Cheese, Shredded   

Preparation Instructions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a skillet on medium heat, saute garlic in olive oil for 1 minute, being careful not to burn the garlic. Lower heat and add tomatoes, chicken broth, sugar, salt and pepper. Simmer on low heat for 10 minutes. Turn off heat and add chopped basil. Set aside

In a skillet over medium/high heat melt butter. Add onion and cook until until soft, about 5 minutes. Add the drained spinach and cook with onion and for a couple of minutes to incorporate the flavors. Remove from heat, set aside and cool to room temperature.

In separate bowl, combine ricotta, egg, Parmesan cheese and 1/2 teaspoon of salt.
Add the cooled spinach mixture with the ricotta mixture, mix well.

Cook manicotti in boiling water until done ( about 7 minutes). Drain, rinse with cold water and set  aside until ready to fill.

Spread a thin layer of the sauce on the bottom of a 9×13 baking dish with sauce. ( About 1 1/2 cups ) Set aside.
Place the filling into a plastic bag. Use either a frosting piping bag or a gallon zip bag. Snip the corner of the gallon zip bag , gather the top and squeeze the filling into the corner.
Squeeze the ricotta into the shell until it is coming slightly out of both sides.
Place the filled shells in the prepared 9×13 baking dish. Spoon sauce over the top ( about another 1 1/2 cups). Sprinkle the Mozzarella Cheese over the shells. Bake in a 350 degree oven for 30 minutes or until bubbly and hot.

Nutrition Facts
Manicotti in Minutes
Servings Per Recipe: 6
Amount Per Serving
Calories: 444
  • Total Fat: 30.9 g
  • Saturated Fat: 13.5 g
  • Trans Fat: 0.2 g
  • Cholesterol: 85.9 mg
  • Sodium: 1155.7 mg
  • Total Carbs: 27 g
  • Dietary Fiber: 3.6 g
  • Sugars: 2.6 g
  • Protein: 17.9 g

Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Mom's Arkansas Chicken Pie

Here is another recipe that my mom made when I was a kid. My mom's not from Arkansas but I guess who ever invented this great recipe was.  The only thing that I changed from the original recipe is that they had you boil the chicken and strain it to get the stock.  I just don't think this is a necessary step considering there are so many wonderful chicken stocks available at the market these days. Of course you can still do it that way if you so desire. What makes this chicken pie stand out from others is the amazing crust on the top. It's made with a soured heavy cream and creates this wonderful biscuit topping. 
 It's like none you've ever had!



  • 1-½ Tablespoon White Vinegar
  • 1-½ cup Heavy Cream
  • 2 whole Eggs, Lightly Beaten

  • 3 Tablespoons Butter
  • 1 whole Small Onion, Diced
  • 10 ounces, weight Red Potatoes, Cut Into 1/2-Inch Pieces
  • 5 whole Medium Carrots, Peeled And Cut Into 1/2 - Inch Pieces
  • 1 package 10 Ounce Size, Frozen Peas Thawed And Drained
  • ½ cups Butter
  • ½ cups Flour
  • 3-½ cups Chicken Stock.... Use A Quality Stock
  • 6 cups Cooked Chicken, Cut Into Bite-sized Pieces

  • 3 cups All Purpose Flour, Sifted
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • 4 teaspoons Baking Powder
  • ½ teaspoons Baking Soda
  • 2 Tablespoons Light Cream-For Brushing On Top Of Crust

Preparation Instructions

For the soured heavy cream:
Start with making the soured heavy cream since you will have to wait 2 hours for it to thicken.
In a small mixing bowl, Add 1 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar to 1 1/2 cups of cream. Stir until blended and let it stand at room temperature for 2 hours until thickened. It will be as thick as pancake batter when it’s ready. When thickened, add the two lightly beaten eggs.

For the filling:

In a medium sized saucepan over medium high heat, melt 3 tablespoons butter. Add the onion, potatoes and carrots. Cook and stir occasionally until potatoes are golden brown. Remove from heat and add peas. Set this aside.
In a large saucepan on medium high heat, melt 1/2 cup butter. Stir in flour and whisk for one minute. Add the chicken stock. Cook, stirring constantly until mixture thickens and bubbles. Taste and season with additional salt and pepper if necessary.
Add chicken pieces, remove from heat cover and keep warm while you make the crust.

For the crust:

In a large mixing bowl, sift flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.
Combine this with the soured cream/egg mixture. Stir until blended. It will be thick.

For the assembly:

Preheat oven to 425 F.
In a large mixing bowl, combine the cooked vegetables and chicken mixture. Mix lightly. Ladle into a shallow 9×13 baking dish. Spoon the crust mixture over the chicken. Brush with light cream.
Bake in a preheated 425 F oven for 20 minutes until bubbly and brown

Print Here



Saturday, February 16, 2013

Not So Teenie Turkey Panini




         Serving Size:  Two Panini's
         Prep Time:  6 Minutes
         Cook Time:  6-8 Minutes

  • 6 Thick Slices of Turkey Breast ( The real kind, not deli.. if at all possible)
  • One Whole Avocado, Peeled And Sliced (You'll use Three Slices Per Panini)
  • One Whole Tomato Sliced Thin ( You'll Use One Slice Per Panini)
  • 6 Pieces Cooked Bacon ( You'll use Three Slices Per Panini)
  • 2 Slices Provolone Cheese ( You'll use One Slice Per Panini)
  • Basil Mayonnaise  ( You'll use 2 Teaspoons Per Panini) Recipe Follows
  • 4 Slices Thick Bread ( I used Texas Toast)
  • 4 Tablespoons Buttered, Softened to room Temperature 
  • 4 Teaspoons Basil Mayonnaise ( Recipe Follows) 

Basil Mayonnaise:

                              1/3 Cup Good Mayonnaise
Two squirts Basil Paste ( About 2 Teaspoons)
In a medium size mixing bowl, mix the above two ingredients.  Mix well and store in refrigerator until ready to serve. 

On the inside of each slice of bread, evenly spread one teaspoon of the basil mayonnaise. For the bottom half of each sandwich, lay a slice of provolone cheese,sliced tomato, 3 slices of avocado, 3 slices of bacon and 4 slices of turkey. Add top piece of bread. Spread 1/2 Tablespoon of softened butter on top and bottom pieces of bread. Grille until golden brown on both sides.

Print Here

This is everything you'll need.

Spread about 1 teaspoon on the bottom of your bread.

One Slice of Provolone Cheese.

One Slice of Tomato, salt and pepper.

Three Slices of Avocado.

Three Slices of Bacon.

Sliced Turkey Breast.

One teaspoon of basil mayo goes on the top slice of bread.

Top it off and get ready for the grille.

Butter both sides of the bread and placed onto the hot grille. cook until golden brown on both sides. 

Monday, February 11, 2013

Chicken Breasts Mornay

Back in the day, my dad was a pretty picky eater.   Luckily he's changed over the years and my mom can finally cook fun and creative meals, but back in the day.......my poor mom. If she made something the slightest bit fancy, he would forgo the meal and eat a peanut butter and jelly sandwich for dinner. 
 No garlic, no fancy sauces, no casseroles, no french cuisine, just simple but good dinners.
Monday night was spaghetti and meatballs. Tuesday night was pork chops and baked potato. Wednesday night was hamburgers and french friesThursday was steak and beans. Friday night was pizza. Sunday was ham, baked macaroni, lasagna and meatballs or eye of the round. Sunday was special.
That sad thing was that my mom is and always has been an excellent cook but my father wouldn't let her try any new recipes.  I remember her watching the Galloping Gourmet and Julia Childs cooking shows on a regular basis.  It must have been torture for her not to be able to try out some of those amazing recipes.
One night when I was about 12 years old she made a wonderful dish called Chicken Breasts Mornay. Sauteed chicken covered and a creamy Swiss cheese and mushrooms sauce.  What was she thinking?  I don't know for the life of me how she was able to get my father to even allow it on his plate, but she did, and much to everyone's surprise he loved it.   At that time it was without a doubt the fanciest thing I had ever eaten and since dad loved it, it was added to our repertoire.  I looked forward to it every time she made it and 38 years later, I still love it!  I hope you give it a try.  

Prep Time:  10 Minutes
Cook Time: 24 minutes
Servings: 4

Print Recipe 




  • 2 large whole, skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • Salt & freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 3 Tbs butter
  • 4 cups thinly sliced mushrooms
  • 3 Tbs flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/4 cup grated Gruy√®re or Swiss cheese
  • 1 Tbs finely grated Parmesan cheese

1.  Lightly pound each chicken breast flat until 1/2 thick and then cut into two inch pieces.
2.  Salt and pepper each piece.
3.  Pre-heat a heavy 10-12 inch skillet over medium-high heat.  Add one tablespoon butter, once melted add the chicken.  Cook on both sides until golden brown ( about 2 minutes per side.)
4.  Sprinkle the mushrooms over and around the chicken.  Cover and cook for five more minutes.  
5.  Remove pan from heat, transfer the chicken to a baking dish. 
6.  Using a slotted spoon, remove mushrooms and sprinkle evenly around the cooked chicken.
7. Heat the pan again on medium high, add remaining butter.  When butter is melted, add the flour and whisk.  When flour is  blended add the milk, cook and whisk until smooth and thick.  Add the cream and bring to a boil stirring constantly.  Simmer and stir for five minutes.
  8.  Take the skillet off the heat and add the egg yolk and the cheese.  Stir until cheese is melted. 
9.  Pour this cheese sauce over the chicken and mushrooms. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese. 
10. Bake in a 400 Degree oven for 10 minutes.

Pound chicken and cut each breast into smaller pieces.

Thinly Slice Mushrooms to equal four cups.

Cook in skillet 2 minutes per side.

Flip chicken and cook two minutes on other side.

Scatter mushrooms on and around chicken.

Cover and simmer for five more minutes.

Transfer chicken and mushrooms to baking dish, leave the drippings.

Into your baking dish.

Melt remaining 2 Tablespoons butter to hot skillet.

Whisk in the 3 Tablespoons of flour.

Add the Milk.

Now add the cream and keep whisking.

Remove or turn off heat and add the egg yolk,

Give a good stir until blended.

Add the Swiss Cheese and stir.

Add to your baking dish and sprinkle the Parmesan Cheese.  Into the 400 degree oven for 10 minutes.

Sunday, February 3, 2013

A Short Story and Libby's Iron Skillet Pork Chops and Sauerkraut

Below is a beautifully written story shared with me by someone who follows my blog.  He is also someone who shares the same sentiment as I do regarding good old fashioned home cooked meals and the handwritten recipe cards that they were given to us on.   I too love digging into my old recipe box and looking at those treasured, stained and torn little recipe cards that friends and family took the time to write out for me.  Though most of my recipe cards have been converted to computer format, I will never part with these wonderful little treasures~

I hope you enjoy his story and family recipe as much as I did.

Libby's Iron Skillet Pork Chops and Sauerkraut

Virtual Comfort
by Alan

I follow fourteen recipe blogs and I enjoy seeking out new and amazing recipes across the Internet. Still, I have one nagging regret that came from my love of collecting good recipes.

I spent my career in the field of Information Technology. As the field of computer technology advanced there were always new challenges and new frontiers developing. Turning technology toward a personal use was an easy decision. One Thanksgiving I gave up searching through drawers and boxes trying to find an old favorite recipe that was to be a part of the Thanksgiving meal. It was then that I decided to relegate all our favorite recipes to a recipe database. It didn’t take long to whip up a Microsoft Access database and start entering the loose clippings and handwritten 3x5 cards into the database. Never again would we have to turn the house upside down to find a favorite family recipe, handwritten on a piece of scrap paper, 3x5 card, clipped from a magazine, or even left in the magazine itself, and stashed away for future reference.

Having created the database I entered those few loose recipes we had stuffed in drawers and cupboards. Wow, I could even put photos of the food with the recipe, like one of those mouth watering restaurant menus. The next logical step was to add more recipes. Why not add a few family favorites from other family members. Add those favorites of mom and sis and aunts and uncles whose comfort dishes have adorned the family tables over the years. With a database, you could add these special treats and then just pop them up whenever you felt the need to cook one up. Heck, go out on the Internet and find more good stuff to add to the collection. Sharing? Just print a copy, or email a copy to a friend. The database was the be-all and end-all for permanent recipe retention and access; except for one thing. It didn’t feel as personal anymore. Something was missing.

Taking an old 3x5, creased, stained and loved recipe, handwritten or typed by a loved one or friend, and entering it into a recipe database removed something from the equation. That old recipe card, complete with bends and tears and stains, held a personal connection to the originator and to anyone who held and used it since its creation. That recipe was touched by someone close to you. I even have some that have finger print stains on them. The handwriting was scrawled by the person in question and the stains came from a kitchen filled with the smells and family fare that came with using the recipe. There was DNA here. That tattered piece of paper was an eye witness to a kitchen atmosphere and events long since relegated to fading memories. No matter when you picked up that old recipe card, it radiated warmth that no database could ever muster. The only connection my database could portray from that old recipe was a virtual link to the source, as a reference. While it became easy to find a recipe whenever you needed it, or share it at the touch of a button (virtual button), it was disheartening in some personal sense.

I still use the database all the time, to look up recipes and print them for easy reference and share them via email or printing. I can even print a cookbook at the touch of a button. But even now, picking up an old recipe that was handwritten and handed down has a feel so different than the cold technology of a computer database. So while the database provides convenience, the old tattered recipe is still retained because it holds a warmth and connection that can never be provided by technology. It’s somewhat the same feeling as reading a book and passing it on, or reading the evening newspaper. There’s something lost in the translation, when we forego these old mediums, which can never be passed on in electronic bits and bytes. I still enjoy a daily tour of my favorite recipe blogs. But inside, there’s still that tug of a good ole’ stained and faded handwritten recipe.

Then again, if this were handwritten, you never would have gotten to read it.

Libby's Iron Skillet Pork Chops and Sauerkraut

Thinly sliced pork chops (bone in)
Can of Sauerkraut (recommend Silver Floss,   barrel cured)
Onion - 1 small (chopped up)
Butter - 1 Tbs.
Mazola corn oil - 1/3 cup
1 cup water ( I used 1 Cup Apple Juice instead, Optional)
Worcestershire sauce

Alan's note: Gramma always used bone-in pork chops for this recipe.

Heat sauerkraut in a little water in a separate pan.
In a cast iron skillet, add a little cooking oil or olive oil to the skillet first.
Slow cook...
Brown pork chops in the oil . ( I salt and peppered both sides of pork chops before putting in the oil.)
Then add butter, onion, and Mazola oil; mix and continue cooking until onions are tender and slightly browned.
Scrape and toss with wooden spatula or spoon while cooking.
Remove pork chops from skillet, leaving stock in pan.
Add a little water (about a cup), plus salt and pepper to skillet to make gravy.
Mix with wooden spatula
Strain sauerkraut and add to skillet gravy.
Stir in a few shakes of Worcestershire sauce
Cook and toss, then add pork chops back in.
Once everything is well mixed again, serve.
Goes good with a little Worcestershire sauce on the side.

Print Here