Sunday, July 26, 2009

Braised Beef with Tortellini and Garlic Breadsticks

Can I just say again that I LOVE my bread machine? It supplies us with wonderful baked goods and does the leg work (hand work?) for most of my shaped-dough recipes. Today we had some FABULOUS breadsticks:

1 1/8 cups water (70 to 80 degrees F)
2 tablespoons olive or canola oil
3 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons sugar
3 teaspoons garlic powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon minced fresh basil
2 cups bread flour
1 cup rolled oats
2 teaspoons active dry yeast

Add to bread machine in order listed. Select dough cycle (it's just that easy!).

I put my dough in the fridge overnight last night, and then shaped and baked the breadsticks for lunch. Took about 20 minutes at 350 Allen said they were the best I've ever made--huzzah!

And what did these bread sticks accompany? Only one of the tastiest meals to ever come out of my crock pot. Not kidding! This recipe was supposed to be an approximation of one of our favorite Olive Garden dishes, Braised Beef with Tortelloni (no, that's not a misspelling). The result was amazing, and a fair representation of the original, although not spot-on.

1 lb beef shortribs
1 onion, diced
1 cup red wine
1 can diced tomatoes (14.5 oz)
1 bay leaf
salt and pepper to taste
1 cup water

Combined everything in the crock pot and cooked on low 8-10 hours. Boiled some tortellini and served the meat over the pasta. My taste buds thanked me over and over for this one!

Note: Next time I'll make a pan gravy with the drippings to get a closer version of the sauce that OG serves with theirs. Might add a bigger can of tomatoes.

Saturday, July 25, 2009

Bread Pudding

I must confess, I never had bread pudding until December. That's right, a life without bread pudding. Sad, I know. I actually tried it at Golden Corral. We were visiting hubby's grandparents down in Florida, and they took us there for dinner one night. I thought it was yummy--sort of like a gooey cinnamon roll.

Last night I had a bummer of a night. Spent all day working, then all night doing homework in preparation for spending all day today (Saturday) in class. And to top it all off, I accidentally deleted one of my homework assignments. Perfect! I ended up recovering the file, thanks to't say enough good things about this free online storage site! Anyway, I was feeling low and decided to bake myself a treat as a study break.

2 old hoagie rolls (original recipe said 6 slices of bread, but this is how much it took to fill the pan I was using)
2 tbls butter, melted
4 eggs, beaten
2 cups milk
3/4 cup white sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Tore rolls into chunks and arranged in 9x9 baking dish. (Forgot to spray first, which meant it stuck. Oops.) Drizzled bread with melted butter. Combined eggs, milk, sugar, cinnamon, and vanilla. Poured mixture over bread, pressing the bread down into the pan lightly. Baked at 350 for about 45 min, until the bread sprang back lightly when touched.

This was a perfect pick-me-up! It also turned out to be great reheated for breakfast this morning.

Notes for next time: More cinnamon, and use brown sugar to make it taste more like a cinnamon roll.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Crock pot Chicken Chow Mein

So once again, silly me forgot to take a picture. That's ok. Crock pot meals aren't that gorgeous anyway. But let me just tell you, it was mmm mmm good! Definitely satisfied my craving.

2 chicken breasts (it was one of those I've-got-chicken-in-the-freezer-and-need-to-use-it-up days)
1 onion, diced
2 stalks celery, diced
2 cups water

Put chicken in crock with onion, celery, and water. Cooked on high for 4 hours. Then, more ingredients!

2 cups frozen veggies, Asian blend
1 cup broccoli (cause I REALLY like broccoli)

Added to crock with the following sauce:

1/4 cup cornstarch
1/4 cup soy sauce
3 tbls molasses
(Mix well)

Stirred the veggies in with the sauce and cooked on low for another hour. Served with whole wheat spaghetti noodles, cooked and fried in a pan with olive oil (just so the noodles got a little crispy).

We will definitely be repeating this yummy and quick dinner! I'm super excited that there was enough left over to have either lunch or dinner tomorrow. Yay!

Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Moorish-Style Chickpea and Spinach Stew

I heard this recipe a while back on NPR when they were having a "cheap eats" kind of series. It sounded incredible, but I just never got around to making it till today. This recipe would be a lot more involved if you didn't already have chickpeas cooked and ready to go in the freezer (like I almost always do). Wouldn't really sub canned--they're just not as good.

4 cups chickpeas
6 garlic cloves, peeled and whole
1/4 cup Spanish extra-virgin olive oil
2 slices white bread, with the crusts removed
1 tablespoon cayenne pepper (originally called for 2 tbls paprika, but didn't have any)
2 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1/2 pound spinach, washed and cleaned
1 teaspoon ground cumin
Salt and pepper to taste

Brought the chickpeas to a boil while heating a pan with olive oil.

Browned garlic cloves for 3 min, set aside. Browned bread in the oil. Used a pestle to mash them up into a paste.

Added spinach, seasonings, and bread crumb mixture to boiling chickpeas. Cooked 5 min. Done! I think I started cooking at 11:30 or so, and we were eating before noon. Now that's what I call a quick meal!

Result: Wow! Spicy! That cayenne has quite a kick. Glad I didn't use 2 tbls of the stuff! But it was really tasty. Definitely would do again for a quick, cheap meal.