Sunday, March 29, 2009

I thought I would get better...

I thought I would get better about blogging, but I really haven't. And if I weren't so "awake" right now, I probably wouldn't be sitting at the computer. (Normally I sack out early on Sundays.)

I am very excited that I did not "lose" my digital copy of the cookbook I put together. I thought I had with the move, but the I found the files tucked away in a random email. Yeah! All is not lost!

Here's a great, easy to make Italian dish that is also easy to freeze!

Triple Cheese Stuffed Manicotti

1 (8-0z.) package Manicotti uncooked
½ cup chopped onion
2 coves garlic, chopped
1 tbsp vegetable oil
1 (26-oz.) jar meatless pasta sauce
1 (15 or 16 oz.) Ricotta cheese
3 cups (12 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 egg

Cook manicotti as package directs; drain. Preheat over to 350. in a large skillet, over medium heat, cook and stir onion and garlic in oil until tender. Stir in pasta sauce. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer uncovered 15 minutes.

Combine ricotta cheese, 2 cups mozzarella cheese, Parmesan cheese and egg; mix well. Stuff manicotti. Spread half the sauce on the bottom of a greased 13x9 inch baking dish. Arrange manicotti over sauce. Spoon remaining sauce over manicotti; cover.

Bake 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Uncover; top with remaining 1 cup mozzarella cheese. Bake 5 minutes longer. Makes 4-6 servings.

Side Suggestions: Salad, bread, green beans

Wine pairing: Chianti or pinot noir

Friday, March 13, 2009

Not your mom's mac and cheese

Chicken-n-veggie mac-n-cheese

I took a different spin on the ordinary classic mac and cheese to make it a complete meal. I also added some "exotic" flavors to really spice it up. Again, I used what was left in the house.

1/3 to 1/2 box of whole wheat penne pasta (I substituted that for macaroni since it's what I already had.)
1 cup frozen mixed vegetables
1 large boneless skinless chicken breast
1/3 to 1/2 jar Ragu cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
Shredded cheese of choice
Ground cumin (Would be great with Tony's cajun seasoning as well.)

Directions: In large pot, boil water and mixed vegetables. Cook about 3 minutes. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Slice chicken and cook in large skillet with EVOO. Add ground cumin to taste. Add a pinch of salt. Cook chicken until no longer pink in center. Add pasta to boiling vegetables. Cook for about 8 minutes (or according to directions on package). Drain pasta and vegetables, and add to chicken in skillet. Pour in Ragu and Parmesan cheeses. Transfer to glass baking dish. Cover with shredded cheese. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes. Set oven to broil, and continue cooking for about 3-5 minutes. (Watch closely so shredded cheese doesn't burn. You want it crispy.)

Side suggestions: Salad and bread of choice.

Monday, March 9, 2009


The other night I came home for work and decided that instead of stopping by the grocery, I would use what was left in my fridge to make a meal. Surprisingly, it was one of THE BEST meals I had made in a long time! I had several fresh veggies that needed to be used up, and this is what resulted:

1 can pizza dough
2 Roma tomatoes
1/2-3/4 cup chopped mushrooms
1/2 chopped yellow onion
1 small package of Canadian bacon, chopped
1 chopped bell pepper
jalapenos to taste
1+ cup of shredded cheese

Directions: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Heat olive oil in skillet, and add onions and bell pepper when hot. Cook onions and bell pepper for about 3-4 minutes and add mushrooms. Cook about 2 minutes and add tomatoes and Canadian bacon. Add jalapenos at the end. Remove from heat and let cool for about 10 minutes. Divide pizza crust in half and roll into two thin circles. Lump cooled mixture into center of circle and add about 1/2 cup (or more) on top. Fold circle in half and pinch sides. Bake on one side for 7 minutes. Flip and bake on other side for about 7 more minutes. Can serve with warmed pasta sauce, but it is fine on its own!

Saturday, March 7, 2009

Sheri, Sheri, quite contrary....

How does your garden grow???

Well, now mine grows with rosemary, oregano, mint, parsley, cilantro and spinach!

Today's do-it-yourself, around-the-house project was to plant a herb garden in my backyard so I can harvest fresh herbs when I cook. So, I went to the county co-op (yes...I live in a small town), and bought some beautiful little plants. Then I went to Lowes to buy some plant boxes, soil and various yard tools.

Planting the garden wasn't terribly difficult, and I hope the spinach does okay in a box. Some of my friends in Fort Worth have spinach in their back yard, and talked about how wonderful it was to make fresh spinach and strawberry salads in the summer. But...apparently spinach, when planted in the ground, likes to take over and rule everything.

We'll see how my little experiment goes. I think the herbs in the pots will do just fine. And hopefully the spinach will as well because I LOVE spinach salad!

Here are some up close and personal pics of each different group.

L-R - Cilantro, cilantro, Greek oregano, mint and Italian flat leaf parsley

Spinach in a box!

My favorite herb of all.....ROSEMARY!!!

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

March Marsala Madness

So, I had a bunch of mushrooms in my fridge that needed to be used up. What can I do with mushrooms? I decided to try making chicken marsala just to see if I could do it. It was an experiment, and not chef perfect, but I think it tasted pretty good!

Chicken Marsala a la Sheri

1 pound boneless, skinless chicken tenders
1 - 1 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced
1/2 onion, chopped
sweet marsala wine -OR-
marsala cooking wine (which is what I used)
kosher salt
Extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat grill pan or skillet with EVOO. Heat on medium. When oil is hot, lay chicken tenders in pan. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Cover with mushrooms and onions. Pour generous amount of marsala wine on top. Sear in pan, turning chicken every few minutes, then transfer to oven and bake chicken until done.
**I had a problem with my liquid evaporating in the oven, so I had to add more. Be sure to keep enough liquid in your dish so it stays nice and moist.

Baked Asparagus
1 bunch of asparagus
1 lime
1 lemon
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
salt and pepper to taste
Directions: Wash and cut asparagus. Lay flat in glass dish. Drizzle with EVOO and then salt and pepper to taste. Squeeze juice of one lime and lemon over top of asparagus. Slice butter and lay on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 15-20 minutes.

Parmesan pasta

1/2 box whole grain/wheat thin spaghetti
1 tablespoon of EVOO (or to taste)
1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
Directions: Cook pasta according to directions on package. Strain and transfer to a bowl quickly. While hot, add EVOO cheese and butter. Stir until cheese is melted.
Other suggested sides: garlic bread, salad, or cooked spinach.
Wine pairings: Pinot Noir, Merlot, Chardonnay