January 11, 2010


This is my pick for jarred tomato sauce. Just the "traditional" jar of Prego. Lately I've been seeing what Rachael Ray cooks on her show and then that ends up being my inspiration for dinner. Even though most of her meals are already quick and cheap, I tend to find a couple more shortcuts here and there. For instance, she made her own marinara sauce (which looked amazing), but since I happen to really love prego, I used that instead. She also used a shallot instead of onions with the spinach, but an onion I had already, a shallot I did not. This recipe was her take on stuffed shells. She uses regular shell noodles (like you would find in shells and cheese) and mixes them in with a cheese/spinach mixture instead of stuffing them, brilliant!

Baked Shells Casserole
olive oil
half of a small onion, diced
1 pkg frozen spinach
1 clove garlic
ground nutmeg
1 cup ricotta
1/4 cup grated parm
2 cups medium shell noodles
1 cup prego

Cook noodles according to the directions on the box. Heat the oil over medium, sautee onions until translucent, add garlic and stir frequently for one minute. Meanwhile thaw and thoroughly drain spinach. Add spinach to pan with onion and garlic. Turn heat to medium low and just warm the spinach through. Season with a pinch of salt, pepper, and a half pinch (a little goes a long way) of nutmeg. Add ricotta, stir. Add grated parm, stir. Make sure the noodles are well drained and add them to the spinach mixture, mix well. [If you don't have a square casserole dish you really should get one... they are excellent for cooking for two.] Put 1/2 cup prego (enough to just cover the bottom) into a square casserole dish and spread. Add the shells and cheese mixture. Top with the remainder of the sauce and sprinkle a little more parmesan cheese. Bake at 350 just long enough to heat through (or until your way-cute husband gets home from the gym). Keep an eye on the cheese. You want it to brown a little, but you don't want it to burn so depending on how long it is in the oven you may want to cover the dish with aluminum foil for part of the time. Enjoy!

January 5, 2010

I Heart Dr. Oz

Matt has learned that if he wants to win me to his way of thinking, all he has to do is tell me, "Dr Oz says..." and I'm totally on board. In fact, the other night he said, "Dr Oz says to take what Dr Oz says with a grain of salt." haha. I totally have a crush on this not-that-cute, much older, TV doctor. Is it bad that I trust everything he says and use him for my resource for everything medical? He's so great with people. Now that I don't have cable and can't crush on Tyler Florence, Dr. Oz is taking his place. Speaking of - if I'm going to search a recipe for dinner, there are few people I search, because I trust their recipes, and Tyler is one of them. I dumbed down one of his recipes for dinner tonight. He makes his own green curry paste (not feeling that ambitious tonight) as well as lemongrass? Does Kroger carry that? Kaffir lime leaves? I'm sure Kroger does not carry that. And thai basil leaves? Anyway, I left all of those things out, saved a good bit of money because of it, and it was still great.

Thai Curry Chicken
1 tbsp canola oil
1/2 red pepper, julienned
1/2 white onion, sliced
1/4 tsp coriander
1/2 tsp ginger
2 tbsp thai green curry paste
1 1/2 cups coconut milk (1 13.5 oz can)
1/3 cup chicken broth
3 boneless skinless chicken thighs, diced in 1 in pieces
1/2 lime, juiced (or 1 1/2 tsp from the little green plastic guy)
cilantro, parsley, both, or neither (it's great, but not crucial), chopped

Heat oil over medium heat. Saute the onion and red peppers for 3 minutes to soften. Add ginger and curry paste and stir for 2 minutes. Pour in the coconut milk and chicken broth. Add the chicken pieces and a pinch of salt. Stir together and bring to a slight boil over medium high heat. Reduce heat and simmer over medium low or low heat for 15 minutes, stirring occasionally. It doesn't hurt to make sure the chicken is done. Squeeze in the lime juice and shower with cilantro and/or parsley if you have them. I just happen to have them left over from meals earlier in the week; I probably would not have gotten them just for this meal. The green color with the red peppers is really beautiful though.

January 4, 2010

Hunters in the Night

Our black cat caught a mole in the house last night. This is slightly unsettling. What is a mole doing in the house? The upsetting thing is that this is not the first mole that's been taken captive by our felines. In the 3 years I've been here, we've probably seen 5, and we haven't seen any in probably close to a year. We have no clue where they're coming from. No evidence of anything inside or outside the house that would point us to where they're hanging out before one of them decides to venture (unsuccessfully) past one of our cats. Poor wittle moles :(

For tonight's dinner I cubed 6 boneless skinless chicken thighs (enough for tonight, enough for tomorrow night) and made enough rice (in my wonderful rice cooker) for both nights. I also cut a red pepper in half, diced half for tonight, julienned the other half for tomorrow night. It's so beneficial to be able to plan meals in advance. I encourage trying to do this at least once a week. Tonight's dinner was a spicy peanut chicken; a make-your-own-take-out (myoto) recipe from Rachael Ray.

Spicy Peanut Chicken
1/2 cup brown or white rice
1 1/2 tbsp canola oil
3 boneless skinless chicken thighs, diced into 1 in pieces
1/2 red bell pepper, diced
salt and pepper
1 tsp ginger
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/8 cup creamy peanut butter
1/8 cup soy sauce
1/4 cup chicken stock
1/2 -1 tbsp chili paste depending on how hot you like it
1 tsp sesame oil
1 8oz can sliced water chestnuts, drained and rinsed
1 bunch of green onions, chopped into 1 in pieces
1/2 cup unsalted, dry roasted peanuts (optional, we left this out)

If you don't have a rice cooker, aim to start your stir fry 10 minutes before your rice is done. Heat oil over high heat in a large skillet. Wait until it's screaming hot. Add chicken and stir-fry for 3 minutes. You're going to get little oil poppies all over your stovetop, it's okay. Add bell peppers and stir-fry for 2 more minutes. Remove chicken and peppers to a plate. Turn heat to medium or medium-low. Add a tad more oil (if it look like you need to). Add the ginger and garlic at the same time and stir quickly (you do not want this to burn) for 15 seconds then immediately add the broth. It's going to start smoking when the cold broth hits the hot pan, it'll stop shortly though. Add the peanut butter, soy sauce, sesame oil, and chili paste. Let it cook for a few minutes until the sauce has the desired consistency. Keep an eye on the heat, because it will go from perfect to too thick very quickly. Lower heat will help keep that from happening. Taste the sauce. We ended up needing to add a spoonful more of peanut butter to balance the soy taste and to thicken it a little. Once it's where you like it, stir in the water chestnuts, green onions, chicken, and peppers. That's it!