Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Lush Lemon Pudding Cake

To be honest, I haven't had a lot of cravings with my pregnancy.  I have to say I have had more aversions (to food in general--except for mac and cheese and Ramen…poor baby) but the one flavor I have continued to crave is LEMON.  Luckily spring is lemon season.  

And, speaking of, Tastefully Simple came out with their new Spring and Summer product line and I was given a choice of products to review.  The Lush Lemon Pudding Cake Mix jumped right out at me.  I made it last weekend for my two equally lemon-loving family members (my husband and mom) and we all gave it rave reviews.  

As usual, this dessert couldn't be more simple.  Considering I feel like I'm going to toss my cookies at any given moment, I am thankful for the ease of the Tastefully Simple products.  A little cold and hot water, some mixing and this baby was in the oven.  Let me show you how easy it is… 

First, the packaging, seriously cute right?  Love the light blue and yellow.
Take packet 1 and pour it into a bowl
Combine with cold water and stir.
Spread into a greased 8x8 pan
Sprinkle with packet 2
Pour hot water over everything.  Into the oven it goes for 30-35 minutes
And it has transformed into a pudding cake; crispy on top pudding on bottom.  So good.
I garnished the dessert with a little whipped cream and twist of lemon. 
And it was lemon-y perfection.
I have a feeling I will be making this again in the very near future…for the baby of course :) 

**DISCLAIMER: I was compensated for this post since I am a blogger in Project Simplicity for Tastefully Simple.  I was also provided with the product.  But, as always all opinions are my own since you cannot buy my love, baby.** 

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Stuffed Shells with Tomato Cream Sauce

Oh hey, remember me?  Yeah, I used to blog here!  Well, that was before I was pregnant and could eat food…let me clarify…look at food without having the sudden urge to puke.  I'm 19 weeks today and I think I might be feeling a tad better.  I really don't want to jinx myself but this might be the real deal.  

The other day I had the energy and lapse of nausea I have been dreaming of for quite some time and made these delicious Stuffed Shells with Tomato Cream Sauce.  Holy pregnant lady happiness!  They are a slight adaptation to my traditional Stuffed Shells recipe and I have to say this adaptation is freaking amazing.  I licked my plate clean…this sauce, you guys, THIS SAUCE is amazing.  It is perfect with the shells and cheese but would be outstanding on any type of pasta you have in your pantry.  

So, let's get to it.

 Start with finely chopping an onion
 Pour a little canola or vegetable oil in a large skillet
 Add in the onion and sauté until they are translucent
 Like so
 Add in a pound of ground turkey.  You can use ground beef if you would like but I really like ground turkey in these.
Be sure to season with plenty of salt and pepper.  Cook the meat until it is no longer pink.  Set aside for now.  
 While the meat cooks, your can start on the sauce.  Add a little butter to a medium sauce pan
 Finely mince some garlic, add that to the pan as well.
 Let it cook for just a few minutes.  Be careful this can burn quickly.
 Once the garlic has had a chance to cook, pour in the heavy cream.
 Add in grated parmesan cheese.
Give it a quick stir
 Add your noodles to the boiling water and cook according to the directions on the box.  You want them al dente since you will be putting the whole kit and caboodle in the oven.  (Did I really just say that?)
 Season the sauce with pepper
 And a pinch of salt
 Then you add in your favorite jarred marinara sauce.  For real. Give it a stir and bring it to a quick simmer…not a boil but simmer while the noodles cook.
 Meanwhile, prepare the filling.  You will need ricotta
 Shredded mozzarella cheese
 Pour in the ground turkey/beef, it is okay if it is still pretty hot, it will just help melt the cheese
 Sprinkle in a teaspoon of Italian seasoning
 And grated parmesan cheese.  I'm sure shredded would be fine as well.
 Give it a really good stir so it is completely combined
 Drain the pasta and drizzle with a little olive or canola oil so they do not stick.
 Prepare your baking dish by spraying the heck out of it with cooking spray and quite a few ladles of the luscious sauce.
 Stuff the shells.  I found the easiest way to do this is by using a large tablespoon and literally stuffing them.  The filling acts almost like glue and is easily molded into the shells.
 Arrange them in a baking dish.  As you can see there is quite a bit of sauce in the bottom of the pan, enough to go about 1/2 way up the sides of the shells.
 Sprinkle with additional mozzarella cheese.  Into the oven it goes
 Bake for about 30-40 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted.  Do you see why I told you to spray the heck out of the baking dish!?  I promise it was super easy to clean up because I did it.
 I garnished with a bit of dried parsley
 Look at how pretty these are.
 If you can believe it, they taste even better than they look!

Stuffed Shells with Tomato Cream Sauce 
(Makes about 24 stuffed shells.  We eat two for dinner with a nice salad)

1 onion, finely chopped
1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil, separated
1 pound ground turkey or ground beef
1 tablespoon butter
2-3 cloves of garlic, minced
1 cup heavy cream
1 cup grated parmesan cheese, separated
Salt and pepper for seasoning
2 jars of your favorite marinara sauce
24 medium shelled pasta
15 oz ricotta cheese (I used fat free)
3 cups mozzarella cheese, separated
1 teaspoon Italian seasoning
Dried parsley, optional for garnish

Start by preheating the oven to 350 degrees.

Place a large skillet on medium high heat.  Drizzle in the oil and add the onion.  Saute until translucent.

Once the onion is cooked, add in the ground turkey/beef.  Season with salt and pepper, cook until no longer pink.  Set aside once cooked.

Add the butter to a medium sauce pan on medium heat.  Once butter is melted, add in the garlic.  Cook for 2-3 minutes or until fragrant but not browned.  Be careful, this can burn easily.  Once the garlic is cooked, add in the heavy cream and 1/2 cup of the parmesan cheese.  Season with salt and pepper.  Bring to a bubble but do not boil.  Once bubbling, pour in the marinara sauce.  Stir and bring to a simmer, again don't boil it.

Cook the pasta according to the directions on the package.  You want it to be al dente since you will be baking it all later.

While the pasta cooks, combine the ricotta, 2 cups of mozzarella, ground turkey/beef, italian seasoning and 1/2 cup of the grated parmesan cheese in a large bowl.

Once the pasta is cooked, drain and drizzle with 1/2 tablespoon of olive/canola oil so the pasta does not stick.  Using a large tablespoon, stuff the shells with the filling.

To prepare the baking dish, spray liberally with cooking spray.  Ladle in the pasta sauce so there is a good amount at the bottom of the dish.  Place as may stuffed shells in the dish as you can fit.  Top with the last cup of mozzarella cheese.

Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the cheese is melted.  To serve, garnish with dried parsley.


Recipe by: Mrs. Schwartz

**A few notes:

1. This reheats beautifully for left overs
2. This makes a TON.  I usually make this recipe then freeze half of it, ready to go in the oven.  I prepare it in one of those tin foil baking dishes, cover with Press and Seal and then tin foil.  When I'mr ready to make it, I try to remember to take it out of the freezer and put it in the fridge the day before.  Then I bake it at 350 for about 45 minutes or so with the tin foil covering it, REMOVE the Press and Seal.  If I forget to defrost it, I put it in a 350 degree oven with the tin foil (no Press and Seal) for about an hour or so to ensure they are fully cooked through.
3.  The sauce reheats well so if you have additional sauce, save it, freeze it and use it for a different recipe!

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Mexican-Style Brats

As you may be aware, I have been working with Tastefully Simple and creating posts with their recipes  since this past August.  This month, I was tasked with creating a recipe using one of the new products from their Spring and Summer 2014 line:  Dill Pickle Salsa.  I was immediately intrigued.  

Once I received the jar, I opened it up and could immediately smell the dill pickle combined with a smoky spice.  I dug right in with some corn chips and was surprised by the "kick" of dill pickle at the end.  

I did some thinking about recipes and one thing came to mind….Mexican Hot Dogs.  Pickles make me think of hot dog relish and the spice made me think Mexican so…. this recipe was created.  Tweaked just a bit since I'm pregnant and should shy away from hot dogs, I used fresh brats.  The end result was something totally different yet familiar at the same time.  Here is how I did it.  

Start with the blank canvas: the hot dog bun.
I spread a good amount of pre made guacamole (you could totally make your own too) on the bun
Sent my loving husband outside to grill in the 20 degree weather.  I could have taken a picture of these beauties on the grill but, that would mean I would have had to go outside.  #noway : )
I took one of those bad boys and situated it right on top of the guacamole.
Cracked open the jar of Dill Pickle Salsa
Spooned a generous amount of Dill Pickle Salsa onto the brat
Sprinkled with a little shredded cheddar jack cheese
A little bit of sour cream
And lastly a few pickled jalapeños for more spice! (Not for me, for the hus).
And there you have it.  We gobbled these up with additional salsa and chips!
Such a different way to eat brats but oh so good!

Mexican-Style Brats 
(Makes 4)

4 hot dog/brat buns
1/2 cup guacamole
4 brats or hot dogs, grilled
1/2 cup Dill Pickle Salsa
1/2 cup shredded cheddar jack (or your favorite) cheese
1/4 cup sour cream
A few pickled jalapeños, if desired

Start by preheating the grill and placing the brats or hot dogs on the grill.  Cook as directed.  If cooking fresh brats, be sure to cook them all the way through so they are no longer pink in the middle.

While the brats/hot dogs are cooking, spread the guacamole into the bottom of the buns.  Place the fully cooked brat/hot dog in the middle of each bun.  Top with the Dill Pickle Salsa, sprinkle with the cheese, drizzle with sour cream and top with the pickled jalapeños.


Recipe by: Mrs. Schwartz

Ps. These measurements are approximate.  Feel free to tailor the amounts to your own taste!

**DISCLAIMER: I was provided with product for this post as well as compensated for my time through Project Simplicity.  But, as always, you cannot buy my love, baby.**