Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Spinach and Cheese Manacotti

My mom takes advantage of the fact that I am off on Fridays. So on those days I'm in charge of dinner. This week she had bought some manacotti shells at the store, so I used that as my inspiration for my Spinach and Cheese Manacotti.

I really didn't use a recipe or anything for it, I just went off what I knew. Here's what I used.

1 32oz Container of Ricotta Cheese
1 package of chopped frozen spinach (thawed and liquid squeezed out)
1 tsp chopped rosemary
1 tsp chopped thyme
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup shredded parmesean cheese
1/2 cup shredded mozzerella cheese
2 eggs
Salt and pepper to taste

Combine all ingredients and fill into cooked manacotti tubes. You may need to make it fit into 2 9x13 pans. Top with 2 cups of shredded Mozzerella cheese ( or any cheese of your choice). Cover with foil. Bake at 350 for 30-35 minutes, taking the foil off for the last 5 minutes so the cheese doesn't burn.


Thursday, March 26, 2009

Barefoot Blogging: Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts

Anne of Anne Strawberry chose Tomato and Goat Cheese tarts for our last March recipe. Excellent choice if I do say so myself!

Okay. I'm going to admit something. I'm not a huge Goat Cheese fan. I can take it in small doses, but just eating slices with crackers? Forget it. I'd rather have a big hunk of Feta or Bleu cheese any day.

Trying the herbed goat cheese with this recipe made me actually enjoy it more, savoring it with the caramelized onions and the juicy tomatoes. This was a pretty easy recipe to make and the results look simply fantastic! These would be great for a bunch or for a wedding shower party. Ready for instructions... here we go!


  • 1 package (17.3 ounces/2 sheets) puff pastry, defrosted

  • Good olive oil

  • 4 cups thinly sliced yellow onions (2 large onions)

  • 3 large garlic cloves, cut into thin slivers

  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  • 3 tablespoons dry white wine

  • 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme leaves

  • 4 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan, plus 2 ounces shaved with a vegetable peeler

  • 4 ounces garlic-and-herb goat cheese (recommended: Montrachet)

  • 1 large tomato, cut into 4 (1/4-inch-thick) slices

  • 3 tablespoons julienned basil leaves

Crap. I forgot to put the goat cheese in the family photo. Please forgive me.

Go ahead and preheat your oven to 425 degrees.

First you're going to want to take your defrosted Puff Pastry and roll it out to 11 inches by 11 inches.

You're going to cut two 6 inch circles from this piece of pastry. Please don't mind my ghetto pastry cutter... this is the only thing in my kitchen that's 6 inches in diameter, haha.

Once you've cut them out, place them on a sheet of parchment paper on a sheet pan. Only put two pastry circles per sheet pan. Throw them in the fridge until it's time to work with them later.

Now... on to the really good stuff.

Take your two onions and remove the skins. Slice in half by slicing through the root. We want nice thin slivers. So cut the onions into slivers like this. You're going to do the same thing with your three cloves of Garlic!

Next up, put 3 Tablespoons of Olive Oil in your sautee pan and then throw in your thinly sliced onions and garlic.

Sautee this mixture for about 15-20 minutes until your onions are limp and there is no moisture left in the pan. After this, you're going to add the 1/4 tsp of Pepper, 1/2 teaspoon of Salt, the 3 Tablespoons of White Wine, and the 2 tablespoons of Thyme. Like this... ( can you already see how delicious those onions look?!)

Cook this mixture for another 10 minutes and then remove from heat.

At this point, go to the fridge and grab your pastry circles.... Using a paring knife, score a 1/4 inch border around each of the pastry circles.

Then take a fork and prick the pastry that's inside of that scored line.

Take 1 tablespoon of your grated parmesean cheese and lovingly sprinkle it on each pastry round, staying inside of the scored line.

Take 1/4 of your caramelized onion mixture and spread it out on top of that parmesean cheese

Crumble an ounce of your goat cheese on top of the onions...

Place a slice or two of tomato on the center of each tart and brush with a little bit of olive oil. Then sprinkle with salt and pepper and sliced basil.

Take your block of parmesean cheese and make 4 or 5 shavings per tart. I use my veggie peeler to make the shavings

Oh man. This looks like a pizza. A delicious tasting pizza. My mouth is watering already and it's not even in the oven yet!!!

Since I don't want to eat uncooked pastry dough, I unwillingly put these in the oven for 20 to 25 miutes, until the pastry is golden brown. And look what came out..... OH MY HEAVENS.

I hope you'll try these for a party.... they are seriously delicious. And if you're not a goat cheese fan, I bet thin slices of mozzarella or crumbled feta would be just as yum on this!

If you're looking for a printable version, just click here!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Barefoot Blogging: Brownie Pudding

Once again, I must sing praises for my friend Tia at Southern, Eh? for choosing Ina Garten's Brownie Pudding for one of this month's Barefoot Blogging recipies.

Well I tried a bit of it and I think the heavens opened and the angels sang. This pudding is crispy on top and the edges like a brownie, and the inside is gooey like a molten lava cake. Well HELLO lover, this is such an easy recipe to make and so delicious. I need you to make it for the next event you have.

It serves quite a few people, or one with a lonely heart. I can see myself curling up with the entire dish of this and the 6 Hour BBC version of Pride and Prejudice.


  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, plus extra for buttering the dish
  • 4 extra-large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 3/4 cup good cocoa powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • Seeds scraped from 1 vanilla bean
  • 1 tablespoon framboise liqueur, optional
  • Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Add your 2 cups of sugar and 4 eggs into your mixer

Mix these on a medium speed for 5-7 minutes until pale yellow and thick, like this.

While that's mixing, take your Flour and Cocoa and sift together.

Add the sifted mixture to the Egg/Sugar combination.

Mix until just combined and add in your 2 sticks of Melted Butter....mmmmm butter.

And mix again until just combined. It should be a yummy looking batter like this. Without a doubt, I WILL be licking the beaters. Don't watch!

Pour this sinful chocolate mixture into a greased or buttered (I used Baker's Joy) round 9x13x2 pan. Bake this at 325 degrees for 1 hour.

Serve this with vanilla bean ice cream and a dollop of whipped cream if you're being fancy. Please take a moment to grab a napkin because you're about to start drooling....

If you'd like a printable copy of this recipe please click here. I'm off to go jog 4 miles to burn off all of this butter and sugar! :)

Thursday, March 12, 2009

Barefoot Blogging : Chicken Piccata

My friend Tia has a great blog called Southern, Eh? and I noticed while surfing her blog, that she is a member of the Barefoot Bloggers group. Well knowing my love for Ina Garten and her recipes, I had no choice but to sign up!

So the first recipe for this month is Chicken Piccata. I've actually have the episode that Ina makes this on, so I was lucky to be able to refer to that while I was making this. Ina went all out and served it with buttermilk mashed potatoes, roasted onions, and an apple-pear crisp. I just served it by it's lonesome little self, but it'd be great with a mixed salad. Let's see how to make it....


  • 2 split (1 whole) boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 extra-large egg
  • 1/2 tablespoon water
  • 3/4 cup seasoned dry bread crumbs
  • Good olive oil
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice (2 lemons), lemon halves reserved
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • Sliced lemon, for serving
  • Chopped fresh parsley leaves, for serving

First things first, preheat your oven to 400 degrees. This is so we can keep the chicken warm while you're fixing the sauce.

Since we want the chicken to cook evenly and much faster, we're going to pound the breasts. Give them a mammogram! Place the breast in between sheets of wax or parchment paper. Grab your rolling pin, or whatever you've got on hand and get mashing! You're going to want them to be anywhere from 1/4 to 1/2 inch thick.

Next up it's time for a breading bath. Please don't judge me for using my Chinese takeout plastic wear. They are so handy. And I'm cheap. In seprate bowls, I've put 1/2 cup of flour seasoned w/ salt and pepper, an egg whisked with 1/2 TBS of water, and the 3/4 cup of bread crumbs. Look how lovely.

Pick up the breast and dip on both sides in each of the containers. The flour makes sure it's dry enough, and the egg helps the bread crumbs to bind to it while cooking. Make sure you shake off any excess... that's right... SHAKE YOUR BREASTS! WOO HOO! *shimmies*

Next up, you're going to want to pour about 2 TBS of your olive oil into a pan.

Then place your chicken in the heated oil and cook for 2 minutes on each side.

Once throughly cooked, remove and place on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Put in your pre-heated oven to keep warm while preparing the delicious lemony sauce that will get poured on this crispy chicken.

I love that this is a one-pan dish! Simply wipe out the same pan you just cooked the chicken in and add 1TBS of butter, the lemon juice, and wine. Then add in the salt and pepper. While you're at it.... toss in those lemon halves you saved while juicing those lemons. ( For those that cheated and used bottled juice... I won't tell) Cook this until it's reduced by half, which should be about 2-3 minutes.

And since this IS an Ina recipe, we're going to make this sauce extra delicious by adding an additional 2TBS of butter once the sauce has reduced. When adding, make sure you swirl it in the pan to combine.

Discard those lemons, for they've done all the flavoring they can do. Remove your chicken from the oven, and plate it. Scoop up some of that scrumptious sauce you just made and drizzle it over your chicken....mmmmm...

Garnish with chopped parsley and slices of lemon!

Now you can honestly make all kinds of variations of this.... I for one next time would only use 1 lemon for the sauce, as when I tasted it, it was VERY strong. If you want to cut through the sourness, you could also add a TBS or two of drained capers. A handful of Parmesan cheese would be extra delicious in this as well!

If you'd like to check out a printable version of this recipe, here is is.

Check back this month... I've got 3 more recipes to try this month. Sauteed Broccolini, Brownie Pudding, and Tomato and Goat Cheese Tarts. I guess that means I need to go sweat at the gym some more, don't I?

Saturday, March 7, 2009

An Afternoon at Whole Foods

Ah, Whole Foods. Or as other people refer to it as "Whole Paycheck". We finally got one here in Jacksonville in December, and ever since it opened, I have forked over parts of my paycheck on a weekly basis.

The moment you walk in, you're greeted by the floral and veggie departments and you feel welcome. The produce is beautifully displayed and arranged, and bascially screams at you to "pick me pick me! I'm good for you!" Walking around the produce you see so many new and interesting items that you have only seen on maybe The Food Network.... dried chiles, rappini, aloe leaf, cactus leaves, bitter oranges, and so much more. I ended up selecting some Broccolini for my Barefoot Bloggers challenge, some dried Chipolte peppers for making enchiladas this week, some Meyer lemons, tomatoes on the vine ( I was sad to see they were out of the big Heriloom tomatoes), some hydroponic Basil, and some fresh garlic.

Since I wasn't really there for grocery shopping, I decided to grab some lunch while I was there. And at Whole Foods, you can get anything under the sun. No matter if you're craving Chinese, Japanese, Indian, Italian, Vegetarian, American, the honestly have it all. I happen to LOVE their marinated Feta cheese from the cold bar section, as well as their marinated artichoke hearts. I was looking at all of the other salads they had available, and they had a fantastic looking Broccoli salad with cashews.... well I just had to try it as well. I scurried over to check out the selections on the hot bar, and they had just brought out a gigantic pan of 3 Cheese Lasagna. Looking at that melty cheese and bubbling sauce, I couldn't resist. I also selected a few meatless meatballs just to try them.

I go to pay for my goods and go to their "cafe" seating area. It's light, spacious, airy, and a perfect place to enjoy your selctions. Whole Foods was so smart to put a seating area in so that you can go shopping, or just come in and eat.

So I will still continue to have myself pulled into the magical world that is Whole Foods week after week. The possibilites are endless. Now if only they brought an IKEA to Jacksonville, my life would be complete. I'd be broke, but at least I'd be happy!