Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Italian Style Roasted Green Beans

If you like green beans you will love this recipe. I had my neighbors over for dinner and they watched me open up the oven to stir the green beans. They said, "what do you have going on in there?" Well, we all enjoyed our veggies that night. Once you eat these babies roasted you will crave them this way. This is my cold winter-time way of cooking my green beans. They are very easy to make and you can not beat the flavor. So roast them up and warm up your kitchen. Who would have ever thought that green beans cooking would smell so good?

I buy the small french green beans at the wholesale food clubs. You can't beat the price and they are already trimmed and ready to go.

Italian Style Roasted Green Beans

2 ½ lbs. green beans, trimmed
4 Tbsp. olive oil
¾ tsp. salt
1 Tbsp. chopped garlic
¼ tsp. coarsely ground black pepper
2 Tbsp. balsamic vinegar
2 Tbsp. loosely packed fresh oregano leaves, chopped

Preheat oven to 450°. In a large roasting pan (17” x 11.5”) toss green beans with 2 Tbsp. oil and ½ tsp. salt and garlic. Roast beans 25 to 30 minutes or until tender and slightly browned, stirring twice. Meanwhile,, in large bowl, with wire whisk mix oil and vinegar, oregano, black pepper, remaining 2 Tbsp. olive oil and remaining ¼ tsp. salt until blended. When beans are done add to vinaigrette in bowl with oregano. Toss until evenly coated. Serve immediately or at room temperature.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Cherry Chocolate Cake

This is one of my most absolute favorites and my friends and family love this cake, too. Not only is it one of the easiest to make, but hands down one of the most delicious cakes you will ever eat. I have made this recipe more times then I could ever begin to count and I will never tire of it. You will notice in the recipe that the melted icing is poured over a hot cake. How cool is that? No need to wait for this baby to cool before icing it. Also, it is the perfect travel cake to give as a pot luck or for a party. I keep a stack of disposable 2-packs of aluminum foil pans on hand. You can buy these very inexpensively at Wal-Mart. I love to be able to give and not worry about getting a container back. This recipe won the Pillsbury Bake-Off, and this is my variation.

Cherry Chocolate Cake
  • 1 box Duncan Hines Dark Chocolate Fudge cake mix
  • 1 (21 oz.) can cherry pie filling
  • 2 eggs (beaten)
Do not use mixer. Add cake mix to beaten eggs and fold in pie filling. Mixture will be stiff, stir until just moistened through. It will look like thick mud.

Bake in a 10 x 13 greased pan at 350 degrees for about 40 minutes or until cooked through and tester comes out clean.

  • 1 cup super fine or dessert sugar
  • 5 Tbsp. unsalted butter
  • 1/3 cup milk
  • 1 cup Ghirardelli Double Chocolate bittersweet chips
Boil sugar, butter and milk for 1 minute stirring constantly until sugar has dissolved. Remove from heat & stir in 1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips. Stir until melted. Pour evenly over hot cake as soon as it is removed from oven. Cool.

Also, if you heat the melted chocolate over very low heat for about 5 more minutes it gives the icing a fudgy flavor. You will notice it gets a little thicker, but be very careful not to burn the chocolate, as it burns easily.

The super fine sugar dissolves better and will not leave your icing with a gritty feeling.

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Tortellini Salad

Get your Italian fix this week. This Tortellini Salad is not only a thing of beauty but it tastes awesome too. Whether you want this as a side or for lunch you can't go wrong. A nice bite of pasta seasoned with vinaigrette, roasted peppers, feta, fresh spinach and olives. I'm in love! This easy to make-ahead dish will be sure to woo your guests. You don't have to tell them how easy it is, it can be our secret.

Tortellini Salad
  • 1 lb. Tri-Color fresh Cheese Tortelinni
  • 1 (7 oz.) jar of yellow or red roasted peppers
  • 1 (16 oz.) bottle of vinaigrette dressing
  • 1 (4 oz.) pkg of fat free Feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1 (DR.WT. 6 oz.).can large black olives, drained
  • 1 (6 oz.) pkg. fresh baby spinach, only using half
Cook tortellini according to package directions. Meanwhile drain and slice peppers into slivers about 1 ½ inches long and set aside. When tortellini is cooked drain in colander and run cold water over to cool down and stop the cooking process.

In a large bowl mix together tortellini, peppers, vinaigrette, feta, and olives, toss together well. Tear off stems of spinach and place torn spinach leaves into salad. Reserving the rest for later use. Refrigerate overnight, stirring occasionally. This makes about 10 cups.

For testing purposes I used a 16 oz. pack of tri-color cheese tortelinni. You can find them in bulk at wholesale food clubs. I have also seen tri-color mini ravioli, that would work as well. If you can not get tri-color just get plain cheese. You may use a favorite vinaigrette of your choice. I like to use Newman's Own Greek Vinaigrette. Do not use a light vinaigrette. I also like to leave the olives whole (if someone does not like them they are easy to pick around). Also I use fat free Feta and it still tastes delish.

Thursday, January 5, 2012

Black Bean and Rice Soup

Cold winter days make me think of hearty warm soups to warm you up from the inside. I go from craving Italian, Asian, Mexican and American foods. This week my cravings pulled me towards Mexican flavors. I love it when a hearty soup like this just happens to be healthy for you too. So follow this recipe for a great warm you up satisfying meal that is ready in 90 minutes, after just a little prep. Don't forget the garnishes. Enjoy!

Black Bean and Rice Soup

  • 3 (29 oz.) cans Goya black beans, undrained
  • 1 (10 oz.) can Rotel original diced tomatoes & green chiles
  • 1 (4 oz.) can diced green chiles
  • 1 large sweet onion diced, about 2 cups
  • 1 large green bell pepper diced, about 2 cups
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. garlic powder
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • ½ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • 2 cups chicken stock or 2 cups hot water blended with 1 Tbsp. chicken base
  • ½ cup long grain brown rice
  • Garnish; crushed tortilla chips, grated cheese and cilantro
In a food processor or blender whirl 1 can of the black beans until pureed. Then add to a large soup pot over medium heat. Add remaining ingredients to soup pot, except for the rice. Bring ingredients to a boil, then stir in rice and bring to a boil again. Cover and lower to a simmer for 90 minutes, stirring occasionally making sure rice does not stick to the bottom of the soup pot.