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Sunday, March 2, 2014

Pepperoni Stuffed Pasta Bake

What does one do when one has the makings for lasagna but not the noodles?  One picks another pasta!

Remember those carnivores I told you about before?  Their idea of a perfect lasagna has lots of pepperoni and meat sauce.  Lots.  Oh, and LOTS of cheese - the more the merrier!

Pepperoni Stuffed Pasta Bake


  • 1 lb hamburger
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, diced
  • 1/2 cup chopped sweet peppers
  • 1 28 oz can/jar spaghetti sauce
  • 1 28 oz can pureed tomatoes
  • 1 tablespoon Italian Seasonings
  • salt & pepper to taste
  • 8 oz pasta (I used Orecchiette - a cute little dried pasta I found at Trader Joe's)
  • 2 cups shredded cheese
  • 8 oz fresh mozzarella
  • 16 oz container of ricotta 
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 additional tbsp Italian Seasonings
  • thinly sliced pepperoni
  1. Boil pasta in a large pot of water till al detente.  Drain and set aside.
  2. Brown hamburger, drain off fat and add onion, garlic and peppers. Cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Add the spaghetti sauce and the pureed tomatoes to the pot.  Cook on a low to medium heat for 15 minutes.
  4. Prepare the ricotta by mixing the container with 2 eggs and Italian Seasonings.  Stir till smooth and light.
  5. Slice the mozzerella.
  6. Begin the layering by pouring just enough sauce to coat the bottom of a 9" x 13" baking dish.  Pour half the pasta in and spread around.  Add the ricotta mixture and smooth as best you can.  Place pepperoni across the surface.  Spoon on 1 1/2 cups of sauce.  
  7. Add the rest of the pasta and place slices of mozzarella on top.  Place on additional pepperoni. Spoon on more sauce. 
  8. Sprinkle with shredded cheese and finish up with a layer of pepperoni.
  9. Bake 45 minutes (or until cooked through) in a 350 oven.
  10. Let sit for at least 10 minutes before serving - it helps it to set.

Give it a try!
Have fun in the kitchen,

Friday, February 28, 2014

Sweet Maple Green Beans - Yum!

We are HOPING to be gathering sap SOON.... albeit the weather isn't cooperating too well.  More cold AND snow in the forecast...What?  Really?  The good news is that hubby is still working on a "releaser" to help with the process and isn't quite done.  :)

That being said, I've been looking for some new recipes to utilize that natural, sweet goodness and ran across this SUPER easy one just the other day.  It involves some lovely green beans and a bit of maple syrup - sounds good, doesn't it?

Sweet Maple Green Beans


2 cups green beans

2 tablespoons butter

3 tablespoons maple syrup

Salt and pepper

How to Make It:

Steam green beans until softened. Melt the butter in a pan over medium heat. Add the maple syrup and green beans saute for a few minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste and serve.

How much easier can you get than that?  Bit o' butter, some syrup and viola!  What else do you put syrup on?

Have fun in the kitchen,

Thursday, February 27, 2014

OH ... man... Chocolate Nutella Tart...yes, that's what I said!

While thinking about what might absolutely fill my sweet tooth, I ran across this video for a Chocolate Nutella Tart from Cooking with Karma.  Unbelievably easy and sounds amazingly yummy!  What do you think?

I think it might have been perfect for Valentine's Day, but since I didn't see it till now, how about just as a "I need something sweet" dessert?  Let's give it a go!

Have fun in the kitchen,

Sunday, February 23, 2014

Purple Finch Restaurant: Bedford, NH ---> WELL Worth the Trip!

The Purple Finch Cafe, in Bedford, NH

One of the wonderful things about my daughter going to college in Manchester is exploring some new restaurants.  This gem is tucked into a small mall right at an intersection we go by time and again.  It was her gluten free BFF who first shared this with her and then she and I just HAD to make a stop.

They have a great story about how things started:

It all started when a pizza boy met a bartender. Jeff and Julie were both attending UNH Durham where their adjoining restaurants of employment would cause them to meet, and instantly hit it off. Jeff, in cooking classes at the time, would bring his daily creations for Julie to try. Julie immediately decided Jeff should cook for her for the rest of her life, and now she thinks he should cook for you too.

Doesn't that just make you smile?  How about the color scheme: you can't go wrong with purple in my book!  The lovely artwork and flowers all around just make you feel all sweet inside. 

 And the menu?  Decisions, decisions... I decided on my first trip (there have been a couple...) to give a Garden Great a try: their Strawberry Fields Salad.  The description caught my eye:

Our signature chicken salad, fresh strawberries, candied pecans, feta crumbles, cucumbers, grape tomatoes and red onion on a bed of field greens. Served with raspberry vinaigrette dressing and fresh baked bread. 

Anytime you put strawberries and feta on a salad, I'm all over it!  It was delicious and HUGE.  The chicken salad had just enough dressing and went incredibly well with the veggie part of the meal.   Let's just say I was rolling out of there when I was done.  I actually had to take a bit home to share eat later.

My DD is a true carnivore and loves a good burger.  Hers was aptly named Cheeseburger Perfection.  In her mind, it was all that!  It was certified Angus Beef and melted in your mouth... I would know as she gave me a little bite!

They have an outstanding breakfast menu and are totally worth the trip!  Just set this address in your GPS: 124 South River Road, Bedford, NH 03110

Here's the kicker, you've got to get there before 2 pm when they close!  Soooo... head over early!
Maybe I'll see you there - great place to meet, that's for sure.

Have fun in the kitchen!

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

After roasting my first spaghetti squash, I had to decide how exactly we were going to eat it.  I could have just tossed it on a plate as a side dish with a bit of butter, salt and pepper, but I was looking to try something a bit more daring AND, as I've been mentioning, we're fighting off the hopeful end of 'ol Man Winter, so baking things in the oven helps keep the house warmer!

I perused the Internet for recipes using this fun new veggie (to us) and ran across several that would help warm the house.  I took ideas from all I read and came up with my own take on  this one.  Here's the recipe - hope you like it!

Spaghetti Squash Carbonara

  • 1 spaghetti squash, cut in half and roasted (see previous recipe)
  • 5 strips of bacon
  • 1/2 onion
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 cup of plain yogurt
  • 1 cup shredded cheese
  • salt/pepper to taste
Start by preparing your squash.  I roasted mine in the oven with some olive oil and set it aside.  After it cools, use a fork or scoop out the shredded flesh inside and put in a bowl.

Cook up the bacon and dice the onion.  Drain off some of the bacon fat and then toss the chopped onion in to cook. Cut up the cooked bacon.

While the onions cook, whisk the eggs, add the yogurt, shredded cheese and salt/pepper.  Once that's good to go, pour into the bowl with the squash.  Add the chopped bacon and the cooked diced onion.

Spray a pie plate with oil and pour the mixture in.

Cook in 350 oven for 40-45 minutes and serve as a side dish.

Have you cooked with spaghetti squash?  What did you make?  Can't wait to try some other ideas!

Have fun in the kitchen,

Friday, February 21, 2014

The Veggie with a SurpiseI Inside: Spaghetti Squash

One of the beauties of having a food blog is that one is forced outside the proverbial "box" - a LOT!  I mean would you all want to see burgers and chicken 7 days a week here?

So, I grabbed a veggie I've never tried that seemed to keep popping up as I was on the hunt for gluten free and low carb recipes: spaghetti squash.

This wonderful "winter" squash can be baked, boiled, steamed and microwaved.  Before you cook it, the flesh is solid, similar to other squash.  You need to dig out the seeds to get at the "meat," which, when cooked, falls apart into strands, like spaghetti.

Another bit of info I ran across: it's easy to grow!  Okay, boys and girls - looks like I might have to find me some spaghetti squash seeds!  I wonder if they have them at High Mowing Seeds?  I'll have to go take a peek...

So, I looked up some ways to cook this wonderous vegetable and ran across "How to Properly Roast a Spaghetti Squash" - how perfect!

  • Cut the squash in half;
  • Scoop out the seeds;
  • Rub with olive oil (which makes ALL things better...)
  • Brush the cooking sheet with olive oil;
  • Sprinkle with salt and pepper, and
  • Cook in a 375 oven for 35-45 min.

Viola!  You have a "base" for some great meals!

Have fun in the kitchen,

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Mashed Potato Soup - Perfect for These Cold Winter Days!

Did I mention it's been snowing almost every day?  We're kind of forgetting what that bright yellow orb in the sky is around here...

So, let's make some yummy soup!  Warm the soul and all that sort of thing.  Minimally, warm up the tummy.

I ran across a delicious recipe for Crock Pot Cheesy Potato Soup over at Tammilee's Tips and thought I could tweak it to match what I have on hand.

Here's my recipe:

Mashed Potato Soup

Put these ingredients in your Crock Pot:
  • 6 chopped potatoes (more/less, depending on their size and how much you want to make)
  • 1/2 an onion
  • 2 cups chicken stock/broth
  • Salt, pepper and minced dried garlic, to taste

Cook on high for 4-6 hours or low for 7-9 hours.

Next ingredients:
  • 1-2 cups of milk
  • 1 cup of shredded cheese
Once they are cooked, mash them and add milk.  Here is a decision point for you: how much milk? Want them like regular mashed potatoes?  Add about 1 cup.  More "soupy"?  Add 2 cups.  

Now, time for the cheesy goodness.  Mix in 1 cup of your favorite (or on hand) shredded cheese.  I tend to have a BIG bag of cheddar/jack mix, so that's what I use.

Final ingredients:

  • Bacon
  • Additional Cheese
  • Green onions
Want to make this a "loaded baked potato soup"?   If so, you just HAVE to have the above ingredients.  Cook up some bacon and crumble it; set aside more cheese (no such thing as too much, just saying) and chop up some green onions.  

After spooning out some soup in bowls, put out a platter with the additional ingredients for people to use.  Personally, TAKE YOUR BACON FIRST!  :)

This was a GREAT part of dinner and then lunch the next day - mmmmm... good!

Have fun in the kitchen,