Creamy Mushroom Pasta

I adore mushrooms.  I just love their earthiness.  A lot of people like them as a meat replacement in meals because they are fairly hearty.  This is completely ok with me, but my husband doesn’t quite agree.  Of course, the person who plans and prepares the meals has final say, and so sometimes he has to just put on his best game face and muddle through without meat.  Though he will often comment that a dish might be better with some meat added…. as is the case with today’s Creamy Mushroom Pasta in which he suggested pouring the mushrooms over some steak, he usually admits that it was pretty dang good and he can handle it without.

This particular dish is definitely satisfying and unless you’re a pure carnivore like my husband you won’t miss the meat.  When a dish calls for a lot of mushrooms I like to get a mix if I can.  Today I went with half and half cremini and white button mushrooms.  The recipe also left me with a choice to make regarding the cheese used, calling only for “tasty cheese”.  Knowing that it was an age old pairing I went with Gruyere, which if you are unfamiliar resembles a Swiss cheese.  Any Swiss cheese would be a good choice for this.  In fact I found an applewood smoked Swiss cheese at the store that I ALMOST went with but decided last minute on the gruyere…. maybe next time.

According to the blog in which I found this recipe it was created with an inspiration of removing the “cream of soup” aspect.  I never saw, or tried the original recipe, but I can definitely vouch for it’s success in producing a cream of mushroom soup taste, however with a definite fresher note.  I especially liked the thyme coming through in this… another age old pairing with mushrooms.  The dish holds up beautifully as leftovers, allowing me to enjoy it for lunch the next few days which is always a plus too.  One variation I might try next time is to add a splash or two of some white wine to bring a brightness and cut through some of the heaviness of the dish, but you definitely can’t go wrong with this recipe as written if you are in the mood for a great comfort dish!

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Creamy Mushroom Pasta

Ingredients :

  • 2 T. butter
  • 1 tsp. cooking oil
  • 1 brown onion, peeled and chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, peeled and chopped
  • 5 sprigs of fresh thyme
  • 400g sliced mushrooms (I used two 8oz packages from the store)
  • 4 T. all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup low fat milk
  • 1 cup tasty cheese (see note above)
  • 250g shell pasta, cooked according to package directions

Directions :

  1. Melt butter with a teaspoon of cooking oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  When butter begins to bubble, add onion, garlic and thyme. Saute until the onion is translucent and the garlic becomes aromatic.
  2. Add sliced mushrooms and mix well.  Allow the mushrooms to cook until their size reduces to about half and they are browned.  Sprinkle flour over the mushrooms and mix well.  Continue to cook, stirring for about a minute to cook out the raw flour flavor taking care not to burn it.
  3. Add vegetable stock, a quarter cup at a time.  Stir to combine each time and allow the mixture cook over a low heat and thicken between each addition.  Once all the stock has been incorporated, add the milk and again allow it to simmer and thicken. Once it resembles cream of mushroom soup add the cheese.  Cook until cheese has melted and the sauce becomes thick (like a velvety cheese sauce).  Season with salt and pepper to taste.
  4. Toss in the cooked pasta shells and serve topped with a bit more thyme.  Other optional toppings suggested are some red pepper flakes, parsley, or a bit more pepper.

Recipe from Fuss Free Cooking

Published in: on April 21, 2015 at 8:19 am  Comments (1)  
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Tamale Pie

As it sometimes goes, I ended up with a recipe that while I am not sure it turned out as intended, it did taste really good.  I debated for a long time whether or not I should blog it, but with an enthusiastic 5 star review from my husband I decided in favor of sharing and just explaining my experience.

On the menu tonight was Tamale Pie.  I am also going to admit upfront that I don’t know if I have ever eaten a traditional tamale….. so I honestly can’t say how similar it is to the real thing.  My husband, however, has and he even made a comment that he enjoyed the cornbread over the traditional variation.  My issue tonight was definitely not with flavor, which was great, and very comforting, but rather with the texture of the cornbread.  It was just really soft, and almost mushy.  It could be as simple as just allowing it to cook longer initially (though I did make sure it was set up before pulling it out) or even using less enchilada sauce to keep a more firm texture.  Perhaps I was even wrong in my assumption that it should retain texture, since the idea IS to soak the enchilada sauce into it.  I do think it would be even better though with a more firm cornbread, or at least more presentable.

As I said the taste wasn’t compromised at all by the mushy cornbread, it just didn’t look very good on the plate lol.  In fact, I am including a shot of my slice for you, and you’ll see what I mean.  Because it was mushy on day one, I had feared it would be gross for leftovers, but by reheating it in a cake pan in the oven the next day (at 350, covered for first half) I was able to keep it from getting mushier and it tasted pretty much exactly the same on the second day.  I am sure you can use the microwave if you wanted, but I just really loathe what microwaves do to food lol.

Let’s quickly talk toppings… I think you can really go with whatever floats your boat so to speak.  I went with a chunky salsa, cilantro, black olives, sour cream, and green onions.  The recipe also says cheese of choice, but like the original blogger, I went with a sharp white cheddar.

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Tamale Pie

Cornbread Ingredients :

  • 1/2 C. cornmeal
  • 2/3 C. flour
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 1 T. baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 3-4 T. oil (I used olive oil)
  • 1/3 C. milk
  • 1 egg
  • 1 small can diced green chiles
  • 1 can creamed corn

Meat :

  • 1 lb. ground beeef
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. pepper

Tamale Pie :

  • 1 1/4 C. enchilada sauce
  • 2 C. shredded cheese
  • toppings of choice

Directions :

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
  2. Whisk together cornmeal, flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt. Add oil until soft crumbles form. Whisk in milk and egg. Gently fold in chiles and corn. Pour into greased baking pan (9×9, 9×13, large cast iron skillet). Bake until set, about 20-25 minutes.
  3. While cornbread is baking, combine beef with spices and sauté in a skillet over medium heat until fully cooked, about 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
  4. Once cornbread is done baking, reduce oven to 350 degree F. Poke holes in cornbread with a fork and pour enchilada sauce over it. Top with ground beef and shredded cheese, and cover with aluminum foil. Bake in oven for 20 minutes. Remove foil and back until cheese begins to brown, about 5-10 minutes.
  5. Let cool for 10-15 minutes before serving with desired toppings.

Recipe from 2 Teaspoons

Published in: on January 29, 2015 at 7:00 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Porcini Fettucine Alfredo

As I mentioned in my last post, there were a couple recipes I tried this week that had a snag or two.  This was another one, though not to worry, it’s easily fixed.

As in the last dish, the sauce was just too thick.  The picture on the blog I got this from showed a much thinner sauce, but mine was thick from the moment I added the cream cheese, and never needed time to thicken up as the recipe suggested.  Had I realized this would be an issue I would have been less heavy handed, so part of it was my fault, but I didn’t use much more than it called for, so be prepared.  I was able to thin it out enough by just adding a bit more of the mushroom soaking liquid (save it all just in case) which just amplified the mushroom flavor that much more.  In my book that is a good thing!  I SHOULD have saved a bit of the pasta water, to further thin it out since I prefer my alfredo somewhat on the liquidy side, but I almost always forget to save any (generally a good idea for many dishes to have some just in case because the starchy salted pasta water will thin sauces without watering them down).

The good news is that even with a thick sauce this is a very good dish!  It has a nice earthy flavor which I just love!  I know there are lots of people that don’t like mushrooms but I just can’t get enough of them personally.  For me they are perfectly acceptable as a meat substitute… however, if you have a picky husband like I do you could definitely get away with adding some chicken or something to this dish as well.  The dish was listed as a lighter version, but I was unable to find light whipped cream cheese, so I guess mine wasn’t quite as light in the end.  Still… it’s probably at least slightly healthier than a more traditional alfreo with LOTS of butter and cream lol.  Speaking of butter, I did add a pad to my mushrooms and shallots while sauteing just to keep them moving around in the pan a bit better and for flavor of course.  The recipe didn’t list how much oil to use, but I used about a tablespoon, maybe less.  I prefer a mix of oil and butter when sauteing mushrooms personally.

Although I did enjoy the dish as written, I had a hunch that I could make it even better with a little marsala wine added in…. SO RIGHT!  I didn’t use very much, and unfortunately didn’t think to add it until after I had combined everything (I imagine it would work best added in while cooking), but it just gave it that little something that kicks it up to the next level, at least for me.  If you are comfortable tweaking recipes to your taste without specified measurements this is a MUST addition.  I won’t give a suggested amount though since I didn’t measure what I used and that was for only a portion of the recipe to begin with.

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Porcini Fettucine Alfredo

Ingredients :

  • 3/4 cup dried porcini mushrooms
  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 12 oz. whole wheat fettucine
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, finely chopped
  • 8 oz. light whipped cream cheese
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1/3 cup freshly grated parmesan
  • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest (optional)
  • 1/4 cup finely chopped parsley

Directions :

  1. Combine boiling water with mushrooms in a small bowl, cover and let stand 30 minutes or until soft.  Drain through a sieve over a bowl, and reserve liquid (see notes above, I suggest to save it all, but recipe calls for 1/4 cup).  Chop mushrooms if not already desired size.
  2. Cook pasta al dente according to package directions in generously salted water. (save some pasta water just in case!)
  3. Meanwhile, heat olive oil in large saute pan over medium-high heat.  Add garlic and saute 30 seconds until fragrant.
  4. Add shallots and mushrooms, saute 5 more minutes (see note above regarding oil and butter), stirring frequently.
  5. Add cream cheese and heavy cream, bring to a boil.
  6. Stir in salt, pepper, lemon zest, parmesan and 1/4 cup soaking liquid (or more as needed if your sauce is thick like mine ended up being, this would also be a good time to add the marsala wine if you wanted as mentioned above).  Simmer 5 minutes or until slightly thickened.
  7. Add pasta, toss well to coat.  Serve with parsley on top.

Recipe from Divine Cuisine

Healthy One Pot Chili Mac

Look at me, two days in a row cooking… lol.

Anyway, if you can’t tell, I am ready for cooler weather and the kind of foods that warm your belly.  What originally drew me in to this recipe was the “one pot” promise.  Even though in our house the dishes fall mainly on my husband as a sort of way to show his appreciation for all the wonderful meals I make, it’s always nice to have LESS dishes, and especially on a weeknight.  This particular dish also comes together easily and quickly making it perfect for a busy work day.

You could definitely use beef in this recipe, the turkey just goes along with the “healthy” claim.  I didn’t plug the numbers or anything, but I imagine it’s not too bad, though I definitely added more cheese than it called for so that made it slightly less healthy.  Another change I had to make was to use a Serrano pepper because believe it or not my grocery store was completely out of jalapenos the other day.  I am not sure it really makes much difference though.

Chilis vary so greatly from person to person, and what is good to some may not be to others.  So with this in mind I will say I really liked this chili.  For me it had the right amount of chili powder and spices.  I also felt the additions were well balanced in this.  I did use 1.25 lbs of turkey, only because that’s what the package came as and I didn’t want to put .25 lbs back in the freezer.  I realize that the addition of macaroni to chili is probably a strange concept to some, but I grew up with my mom making something quite similar actually (though it was more of a soup) so it wasn’t new to me at all.

One note I would make…. the recipe says to use a large pot, and it shows them using a large saute pan…. I imagine things would be hard to fit in there without making a mess.  I used my dutch oven and it worked perfectly for this.

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Healthy One Pot Chili Mac

Ingredients :

  • 1 T. olive oil
  • 1 small onion, diced
  • 1 green pepper, diced
  • 1 jalapeno, minced (I used a Serrano)
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. ground turkey
  • 2 T. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 2 cans stewed tomatoes
  • 1 can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 1/2 Cups water
  • 1 1/2 Cups macaroni noodles
  • 1 Cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions :

  1. In a large pot (or dutch oven) over medium heat, add oil and saute the onion, garlic, green pepper, and jalapeno until slightly softened, about 3 minutes.
  2. Add turkey to the pot and break up, cooking until browned.
  3. Add the seasonings, tomatoes, beans, water and macaroni, stir to combine and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, reduce heat to medium low and allow to simmer until macaroni is soft, about 12 minutes.
  4. Remove from heat and add the shredded cheese.
  5. Serve with additional cheese on top if desired.

Recipe from Oh, Sweet Basil

Marsala Mushroom, Spinach & Hazelnut Orzo

First things first… some of you may have noticed I took a rather long hiatus from this blog.  There were multiple reasons, it was just basically something I needed to do, but I am ready to get back into things…. I hope lol.  Life is a bit chaotic right now as I am adjusting to new schedules with my baby finally in preschool 3 days a week, but I have been having that urge to not only start meal planning and trying new recipes again, but to blog them as well.  The rest of you, maybe didn’t notice at all, and that’s ok too lol.  I hope in my absence everyone still enjoyed the many wonderful recipes already posted on my blog.

Now for the recipe…

This was definitely a winner in my book.  Such wonderful flavor and a great blend of textures.  I especially liked the crunch and nuttiness of the hazelnuts along side the mushrooms.  This does make a lot, so I am hoping the leftovers are just as good, which I think they will be.

I actually have never cooked with marsala wine before, and it was kind of funny… I was searching all over the wine section for it, when I had to look it up on my phone and realized it would be near the vinegars.  So there, I have saved you that bit of embarrassment if you have never purchased it before.  Anyway, I love a good mushroom dish and this is exactly that.  It called for 3 cups of mushrooms, but I honestly don’t know how you can measure mushrooms by the cup… so I just grabbed like 12-14 and eyeballed it.  I cut them fairly thick so they would stand up to the cooking and retain a bit of meatiness to them and that worked out well.  I actually simmered everything for about 9 minutes, instead of the 5, because I had a late start getting my orzo into the boiling water.  Everything came together very easily, and dinner was ready in a short time which is always a plus on those busy weeknights.

I tried something a little different from my norm, which is just taking a shot at the end… and attempted to get some ingredient shots and even some cooking shots, but it wasn’t hard to realize that’s not my forte!  Not only is the light in my kitchen not very conducive to that sort of thing, but I just don’t have the time while cooking to fiddle with it.  I am usually always doing SOMETHING, and more often than not I am a sweaty, frazzled mess and the last thing I want to do is take pictures lol.  I might try from time to time, but I can’t promise anything.

Because I was in a rush when copying the recipe down I forgot one of the ingredients (which I did put in the dish since I added it in the steps), so it didn’t make it in the picture.  Any guesses as to what it was?  I will give you a hint… it’s not the salt and pepper (though also not pictured) and it’s one of my FAVORITE and most used ingredients…..

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 Marsala Mushroom, Spinach & Hazelnut Orzo

Ingredients :

  • 2 C. uncooked orzo
  • 2 T. olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 C. cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1/2 C. vegetable stock
  • 3/4  C. marsala cooking wine
  • 1 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 2 C. fresh spinach
  • 1/2 C. marscapone
  • 1/4 C. pecorino, or an Italian blend like parmesan and romano like I used
  • juice of 2 lemons
  • 2/3 C. toasted hazelnuts

Directions :

  1. Cook orzo according to package directions.
  2. Meanwhile saute shallot in oil over medium heat until softened (about 2 min.).  Add garlic and saute another 30 seconds or so until fragrant.
  3. Add mushrooms, cook until they begin to brown and soften.  This takes about 3-4 minutes.  Stir often.
  4. Add Vegetable stock, marsala, salt and pepper, making sure to deglaze the pan.  Bring to a boil, reduce heat and allow to simmer at least 5 minutes (or longer if you are waiting on your orzo like I was).  Stir often and make sure not to overcook your mushrooms.
  5. Add mushroom mixture to drained orzo, then add your spinach, marscapone, and Italian cheese, stirring until cheeses are melted and spinach is wilted in.
  6. Stir in lemon juice and hazelnuts and serve immediately.

Note : it calls for toasted hazelnuts.  I find it best to do this BEFORE I start cooking so I don’t totally forget about them and end up burning them.  There are two ways to do this…. some people like to do it in the oven, or you can do it like I do, in a skillet over medium heat stirring almost constantly and watching closely.  Once they start to toast they will burn quickly if you aren’t careful.  I prefer the skillet method because I am not only watching them the entire time and not likely to forget them, but I find they cook less evenly when just left on a sheet in the oven and some will still burn in there.


Recipe from Orchard Street Kitchen


Skillet Baked Ziti with Sausage

Let me start off by saying that though this is REALLY good, I mean seriously so, a friend that has made real baked ziti many times (something I can’t say that I have ever tried) says this does not resemble it very closely.  She did agree that it was fantastic however.  So whether you want to call it baked ziti or not, you should try this for sure!

The sauce is amazing, and everything together screams comfort food.  I did make a few changes/substitutions in my version as did the friend I mentioned.  So I am going to list the recipe out with those ingredients.  One big change I made was to use fresh roma tomatoes rather than canned peeled tomatoes because I am trying to avoid canned foods as much as possible.  This is a personal choice, but I have been hearing so much about BPA in the lining and I am just really trying to make better food choices for my family where and when I can.  Having never substituted fresh tomatoes for canned in something like this I honestly wasn’t sure what to expect.  I read about how to blanch and peel tomatoes but I didn’t want to go through the hassle.  I knew that might mean I would have pieces of the skin left in my dish but honestly I didn’t notice it if there were.  They blended up nicely in the processor.  The other notable change I made was to use chicken sausages (the kind that are more like hotdogs).  I don’t love sausage, so again this is preference.  I didn’t have any casings to remove, and I ended up chopping it into bite sized pieces.  Since it comes fully cooked I just had to heat it up really and let it get some browning before moving on with the next step.  Of courses I added more cheese… but I will list that as it stated and let you be the judge there.

I made mine in my cast iron skillet, just make sure you are using an oven proof one.  I love dishes like this where you make everything in one skillet.  Saves on dishes… even though admittedly that’s my husband’s job… and it’s just easier.  I really love the rustic look of serving a full dish in a cast iron skillet too.


Skillet Baked Ziti with Sausage

Ingredients :

  • 28oz fresh roma tomatoes (about 5-6)
  • 1 4-pk Italian Chicken Sausages, cut into bite size pieces
  • 6 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/4 tsp. red pepper flakes
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 3 cups water
  • 12 oz. ziti (I used penne)
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • 1 oz. parmesan cheese, grated
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
  • 4 oz mozzarella cheese, shredded (or more!)

Directions :

  1. Preheat oven to 475 F.
  2. Add the tomatoes to the bowl of your food processor and pulse until there aren’t any large pieces left, about 12 pulses.
  3. Set a 12-inch skillet over medium heat and add the sausage. Cook until the sausage is slightly browned.  Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook just until fragrant, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Stir in the tomatoes and the salt (if you’re not using a nonstick pan, now is a good time to scrape the bottom of the pan to release the browned bits). Reduce the heat to medium-low and allow the mixture to simmer gently for about 10 minutes, or until the tomatoes don’t taste raw anymore.
  4. Add the water and pasta to the pan (the pan will probably be quite full, just stir gently to prevent overflow). Cover the pan and turn the heat up to medium to medium-high (adjust as necessary to maintain a vigorous simmer). Cook, stirring frequently to prevent the pasta from sticking to the bottom of the pan, for about 15 minutes, or until the pasta is tender. The pasta will not have absorbed all the liquid in the pan.
  5. Add the heavy cream, Parmesan cheese, and parsley to the pan. Stir to incorporate, then season to taste with salt and pepper. Top the pasta with the mozzarella cheese then transfer the pan to the oven and bake for about 10-12 minutes, or until the cheese has melted and browned.

Recipe from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures


Broccoli-Chicken Mac & Cheese

Continuing on with my comfort food theme of late I decided to give this Broccoli-Chicken Mac & Cheese a try.  I am not really a fan of basic mac and cheese, but I do like the jazzed up versions.  Nothing screams comfort like pasta, cheesy sauce, and other flavorful bits all mixed in with it!

We both thought this was really good.  It has a rich creamy/cheesy feel to it, but the best part is that you are saving so many calories by using laughing cow cheese in this dish.  I used garlic and herb as suggested in the recipe, but I bet it would be good with the french onion variety or perhaps some of the others as well.  I used oricchiette, but the person who posted it used shell noodles.  The last change I made was to use half and half in place of the milk.  I know it undid some of the benefit of using the laughing cow cheese, but I had some left over from another recipe and I didn’t want to waste it.  I used probably about 1/2 cup of that, and 1/2 cup of fat free milk.

Anyway, this dish is a complete meal, comes together easily, and would please even the pickier eaters (as long as you can actually get yours’ to try things that is lol).  It also looks very nice on the plate with all the colors, I would just suggest tossing it a bit more gently than I did since I broke up a lot of my broccoli in my haste to get dinner on the table.  What can I say, I was hungry! lol


Broccoli-Chicken Mac & Cheese

Ingredients :

  • 8 oz. large macaroni noodles (or whatever noodle you prefer)
  • 3 cups small broccoli florets
  • 2 large chicken breasts (about 1 lb), cut into bite-sized pieces
  • salt and pepper
  • 2 tsp. oil (I used oil from the sun-dried tomatoes)
  • 6 oz. laughing cow lite cheese wedges (I used Garlic & Herb)
  • 3/4 – 1 cup milk
  • 1/4 cup sun-dried tomatoes, chopped

Directions :

  1. Cook macaroni noodles in a large pot of salted, boiling water. Add broccoli to the pot 3 minutes before noodles are done cooking, then drain well and set aside.
  2. Meanwhile, season chicken pieces with salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, then add chicken and cook until no longer pink. Remove to a plate and set aside. In the same skillet, add cheese, milk, sun-dried tomatoes, salt, and pepper, then stir until cheese is melted, and sauce is thick. Add cooked chicken, noodles, and broccoli to the skillet then stir well to combine. Add more milk if sauce isn’t creamy enough, then serve.

Recipe from Iowa Girl Eats


Buffalo Chicken Chili

I know I just posted a chili recipe, but that’s one of the things I like about chili.  There are SO many recipes out there, often using the same basic ingredients and spices, yet they all taste so different.  Obviously this particular recipe doesn’t stick to the traditional ingredients, but you all know that as soon as I saw the word Buffalo I had to try it!

This may seriously be my favorite chili recipe, ever!  The buffalo flavor is there, but not overwhelmingly so.  I actually tasted it while it was simmering and felt I wanted a little more so I used about a cup total of the wing sauce.  The recipe also just called for Frank’s hot sauce, which I believe is different than the Frank’s Wing Sauce version…. but whenever I am making something “buffalo” I always go for the wing sauce version.  It just makes sense.

It had a nice bit of heat, but again not overpowering for those that don’t like their mouth to be on fire.  I wasn’t sure about the spice amounts, and felt like too much of the traditional chili spices would mask the buffalo, so I ended up using 1 T. chili powder, 1 T. cumin, and about 1/2 T.  of the paprika.  That was perfect for us.  I used turkey instead of chicken, mainly because I was scared to buy Foster Farms chicken after hearing something on the news recently about maybe listeria or salmonella or something even though they didn’t recall it and said to simply make sure it was fully cooked.  I honestly don’t notice much difference between the two when they are ground up anyway since you are adding so much flavor to the dishes.  I also added a can of white beans to my chili and cut back on the amount of meat to make sure it wouldn’t get too thick.  I know a lot of people don’t like beans, but to me it isn’t chili if there aren’t beans!  The biggest addition I made to this, however, was to top it with some crumbled goat cheese (I gave my husband blue cheese, but I am not a fan) and OMG, that was SO perfect for this.  It melted in beautifully and made it so creamy and added that bit of tanginess that cuts through the heat of the buffalo sauce you would often get from either using blue cheese or ranch dressing.

I seriously couldn’t get enough, and it was just as good the next day for lunch!  If you are looking for a great comfort dish to warm you up as the weather turns cold and dark this is one you won’t want to miss!

Buffalo Chicken Chili

Ingredients :

  • 1 T. extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 lbs. ground chicken (see note above, I used 1.25lb turkey)
  • 1 large carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 T. chili powder (see note above, I used 1 T.)
  • 1 T. ground cumin
  • 1 T. smoked paprika (see note above, I used about 1/2 T.)
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth
  • 1/2-3/4 cup Frank’s hot sauce (see note above, I used 1 cup Frank’s Wing Sauce)
  • 1 (15oz.) can tomato sauce
  • 1 (15oz.) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes
  • Optional toppings : sliced green onions, shredded cheddar (I used the onions and some crumbled goat cheese for me and crumbled blue cheese for my husband)

Directions :

  1. Set a large pot over medium to medium-high heat and add the oil. Add the ground chicken and cook until browned, breaking it up with a wooden spoon as it cooks.
  2. Stir in the carrots, onion, celery, garlic, chili powder, cumin, paprika, salt, and pepper. Cook for about 8-10 minutes, stirring often, until the veggies have softened.
  3. Add the chicken broth and scrape the bottom of the pan to release any brown bits. Stir in the hot sauce, tomato sauce, and crushed tomatoes. Bring the mixture to a boil, then reduce the heat and simmer until the veggies are tender and the chili has thickened to your desired consistency. (Best to give it at least an hour)
  4. After simmering, try the chili and add additional seasonings and/or hot sauce to taste, if necessary. Garnish with sliced green onion, shredded cheddar cheese, or any other toppings you’d like before serving!

Recipe from Tracey’s Culinary Adventures



Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese

I always see recipes for these healthier versions of dishes that are made with things like pumpkin, squash, sweet potatoes, etc, and I find myself skipping over them more often than not because I haven’t enjoyed those ingredients in the past.  I love pumpkin in desserts though.  The funny thing is, though, that I really WANT to like those things because they just scream Fall to me, and they are pretty healthy obviously.  I kept telling myself I just had to find the right dish for me, and this dish proved that theory!

I had no idea what to expect, whether it would taste like pumpkin and just have that cheesy texture, or if the pumpkin flavor would disappear all together like certain other alternative ingredients.  The answer is that it falls somewhere in between.  I could taste the pumpkin, but with the marscapone, garlic, onions and sage it takes on a somewhat sweet quality that takes it far enough away from that raw pumpkin taste that I really enjoyed it.  Texturally it reminded me a lot of mac ‘n cheese, but if you are hoping for that really cheesy flavor this may fall a little short.  Personally I am not a big fan of boxed mac ‘n cheese, and prefer more “grown-up” versions anyway with a variety of flavors and cheeses so I did not find it lacking at all.  Visually it definitely resembles traditional Mac ‘n Cheese.

To make more of a meal out of this I threw in some pan-fried chicken sausages and frozen peas.  I think mine were an Italian variety, but I can’t remember now that I have thrown out the package.  I imagine many of the different varieties available out there will work with this based on your tastes though.  The same goes for the peas.  You could use whatever vegetable you like, just be sure to allow for some cooking time if you are using something other than peas (I just threw them in frozen and the heat of the dish softened them up enough).

One side note…. the recipe calls for grated parmesan cheese, but I am fairly certain they meant the shredded variety.  I HATE when a recipe calls for grated and I get the powder because that’s what it’s called only to realize later they meant shredded.  It doesn’t matter that much in terms of flavor, but sometimes it does in terms of texture.  For this I just added some of it to the sauce as it heated, and then topped with a little more of the powder.

Anyway, both Jeff and I agreed this was a great dish and that we would make it again.  If you have kids that eat real food they would probably like this as well.

Pumpkin Mac ‘n Cheese

Serves : 4-5

Ingredients :

  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
  • 2 T. butter
  • 1/2 onion, diced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 tsp. dried sage
  • 1/4 cup marscapone cheese (I added about 1 T. more)
  • 1/8 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. pepper
  • 12 oz. whole wheat pasta (something with ridges will catch the sauce best)

Directions :

  1. In a frying pan, melt the butter over medium heat.
  2. Add the onions, garlic and sage and saute until the onions are translucent.
  3. In a blender, combine the pumpkin puree and cooked onions, garlic and sage, and blend until smooth.
  4. Pour the blended mixture into a saucepan and heat through.
  5. While the sauce is heating, cook pasta according to package directions.
  6. Add the mascarpone and parmesan to the pumpkin sauce and stir until combined. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  7. Drain the pasta once al dente, reserving about half a cup of the pasta water.
  8. Place the drained pasta back into the pot and add the pumpkin sauce, stirring until all the pasta is coated. Add pasta water if necessary to thin out the sauce.
  9. Any add-ins should be mixed in next – I sauteed chicken apple sausages and added frozen peas to give a little more substance.
  10. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese and devour.

Recipe from Bites N Brews


Loaded Baked Potato Soup

First a confession…. I have mentioned a few times now that I am not a lover of soups.  I have shared a select few with you on here that I do like, but generally I thought of myself as someone who just didn’t enjoy most soups.  Looking through the soups I have come to enjoy I feel like I can no longer accurately call my self a soup hater.  I still don’t really like brothy soups, and certain others, but I think at this point it’s safe to say I DO like soup, but am just choosey.

Creamy soups are among those that appeal to me.  So when I saw this one I knew I wanted to give it a try.  It looked quite creamy in the picture….. mine however was not so creamy.  Before I explain I want to say though that it did not take away from my enjoyment.  It was just creamy enough to still seem like a creamy soup, but I guess I had just imagined it thicker.  The reason it wasn’t I can only guess at… but I think it may have something to do with the fact that I eyeballed my chicken stock as well as the amount I pureed at the end.  I actually think that I may have pureed more than 1/3 of the chunks because I did want to make it creamier, which left me with fewer chunks than I would have liked.  Jeff said he thinks the soup could have used a couple more potatoes so I guess he agrees with me.  This just depends on how creamy, chunky you like your soup.

We did both agree that it was a great soup though when it came to flavor.  Jeff said it was way better than Campbell’s.  It really did taste like loaded baked potatoes.  I loved the salty pieces of bacon in contrast to the creamy cheesy soup, and the bite of the onion, with the tang of the sour cream.  Another confession… I made the entire package of bacon and we still could have used more for the leftovers.  What can I say…. we like our bacon!

Another change I made was to use half and half instead of the whole milk and cream.  I just replaced it as the 1 1/2 cups, but I divided it as suggested in the recipe.  The recipe just says to salt and pepper the soup to taste, and I used about 1 tsp. salt along with a good handful of turns on my pepper mill as suggested by the original poster.  As she pointed out, potatoes do require a good bit of salt to bring out the flavor.  Just remember that there will be a saltiness from the bacon as well… and some more than others.  So start with a little, taste it, and go from there.

This is a great comforting soup to warm you up on those chilly fall nights for sure!

Loaded Baked Potato Soup

Yield : 10-12 servings

Ingredients :

  • 8 slices bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (or the entire thing if you are like me)
  • 3/4 cup diced celery
  • 1 1/2 cup diced onion
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 6 small russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 6 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 2 T. unsalted butter
  • 2 T. flour
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 cup heavy cream
  • shredded cheddar cheese, for garnish
  • sour cream, for garnish
  • sliced scallions, for garnish

Directions :

  1. In a Dutch oven or large soup pot, cook the bacon over medium heat until all the fat has rendered. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the cooked bacon to a paper towel-lined plate and drain off all but 1/4 cup of the drippings.
  2. Reduce the heat to medium-low and then add the celery and onions to the pan and cook, stirring occasionally, until the onions are translucent. Add the garlic and continue cooking for 1 to 2 minutes.
  3. Increase the heat to medium and then add the cubed potatoes, stirring to combine. Cook the potatoes for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, then add the chicken stock. (The chicken stock should just cover the potatoes, so depending on your pot, you may have to add more stock.) Bring the soup to a simmer then cover the pot and cook the soup for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are fork-tender.
  4. In a separate medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium heat. Once the butter is melted, whisk in the flour to make a roux. Stir the roux constantly for 1 to 2 minutes until it’s pale golden then whisk in the milk. Bring the mixture to a boil and cook it, stirring constantly, until it’s thickened slightly. (It should be the consistency of gravy.) Whisk the milk mixture into the potato mixture and cook the soup for 5 minutes over medium-low heat.
  5. Remove the soup from the heat. Transfer 1/3 of the soup to a medium bowl. Using a hand blender, purée the soup that’s remaining in the pot until it’s smooth. (or a blender if you don’t have one.) Return the reserved 1/3 of the soup to the pot, stirring to combine.
  6. Stir in the heavy cream and season the soup with salt and pepper. When ready to serve, top each bowl of soup with the cooked bacon, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and scallions.

Recipe from Just A Taste


Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread

Ok, I am breaking my own rule of staying organized and blogging things in order as I make them, but I just HAD to open up these pictures and see how they turned out.  Have you ever seen a more gorgeous sight than all that cheese and bread?!?!  The cheese literally goes on and on all the way to the bottom where you also find scallions and garlic butter!  Talk about heaven!

As I have probably mentioned a few times before, we are usually trying to watch what we eat so things like this don’t really fit the bill.  I have successfully scrolled past countless recipes for cheesy pull apart breads in the past, but I guess I had a limit because when I came to this one I just couldn’t resist.  I knew it wasn’t a great idea, but I decided to make it for “dinner” and just serve some salad with it.  I can’t say that I regret it, but my stomach may have that night lol.  Sometimes you just have to make those types of sacrifices for the sake of your blog though, right?  Anyway, this is a great thing to serve before a meal.  It could serve a lot of people, but I would suggest making it for close friends or family given that you are all eating it with your fingers….

It’s pretty easy to make, though admittedly a little frustrating at times.  Hopefully you have a nice sharp knife on hand because it’s not that easy to make a grid pattern without breaking off pieces.  When that happens don’t fret though just leave them there and the cheese will glue it all back together at the end.  Do take your time though and make careful cuts.  The other frustrating part was trying to get ALL THAT CHEESE down into and on top of this thing!  4 cups of cheese is A LOT!  Just keep pressing it down into the crevices and piling it on top.  I actually gave up and kept a little back to put on top once some of it melted down and that worked too.  Though we probably could have, my husband and I did not finish this the first night.  I wrapped it back up in new foil and put it in the fridge.  It was just as fantastic the next day warmed up a little!


Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread

makes : 1 loaf

Ingredients :

  • 1 large loaf or boule-style Italian bread (Sourdough or French could also work)
  • 1/2 C. butter, melted
  • 1 bunch scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 clove garlic, minced (I probably used more like 3 lol)
  • 8 oz. sharp cheddar, shredded (2 cups)
  • 8 oz. Monteray Jack, shredded (2 cups)  (I used Mexican blend because I am too lazy to grate cheese and it’s hard to find small bags of just Monteray Jack)
  • parsley

Directions :

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray a sheet of heavy-duty foil with non-stick cooking spray and set aside.
  2. Cut a cross-hatch pattern into the top of the bread by slicing ½-inch grid lines into the bread, stopping about ¼-inch from the bottom of the bread so that it stays together. Place the bread on the piece of foil that has been sprayed.
  3. Stir together the melted butter, garlic and scallions.
  4. Gently separate the bread with your fingers, then spoon the butter mixture in all of the seams, making sure it is evenly distributed among the whole loaf. Wrap the loaf up in the foil and place on a baking stone or directly on the oven rack and bake for 10 minutes.
  5. Remove from the oven and increase the oven temperature to 425 degrees F.
  6. Open the foil and sprinkle the shredded cheese on top of the bread. There will be a lot of cheese, so try to push down as much as you can in between all of the crevices in the bread. Leave the foil open and return it to the oven. Bake until the cheese is completely melted, bubbling and starting to brown on top, about 15 minutes. (Mine seemed done around the 10 minute mark so watch it closely) Let stand for 5 minutes before serving, then sprinkle with parsley (if desired) and dig in!

Recipe from Brown Eyed Baker


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Orecchiette with Sausage and Arugula

I wasn’t sure what I expected from this, but it definitely exceeded those expectations.  Jeff and I have a love hate relationship with tomatoes in that we like red sauces, but always opt out of fresh tomatoes on things like sandwiches and whatnot.  Seeing that there was an entire pint of tomatoes in this made me a bit nervous, but at least they were the small variety and cut up which we can sometimes deal with.  Still, there were a lot.  The great thing is that they break down a lot during the simmering process and lend their flavors to the sauce which is seriously delicious.  So, if you’re like us and don’t really like tomatoes or usually cut back on the amount stated at the very least, don’t be afraid to put them ALL in this one.

The sauce was nice and creamy, but had a sweetness to it from the wine.  I used a moscato because it’s what I had but the recipe didn’t state anything other than “white” wine.  The recipe recommended putting some of the pasta water into the sauce, but I really didn’t need to.  I did spoon the orecchiette into the sauce though and bits of water went along with that so maybe that was just enough.  It’s just one of those things you’ll have to judge based on  how thick your sauce is by the end.  The original recipe also called for turkey sausage, to result in a lighter dish, but I just went with some of the meat counter Italian sausage at my local grocery store that was likely pork.  I personally don’t even like sausage… something about the chewy texture, but in this it honestly didn’t bother me at all since it was broken up into pieces.  This is nice and hearty and I think would easily serve 4 people for a main course, but the recipe stated 3.  If you can’t find arugula you could easily substitute spinach instead, but for those not familiar with Arugula it has an almost peppery taste which is a nice addition to this meal.  I would check in the salads and spinach section of your grocery store.  I got mine in a big plastic container.

Orecchiette with Sausage and Arugula

serves : 3-4               Time to make : 35-40 minutes


  • 3 cups Orecchiette pasta
  • 1 red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 lb. Italian sausage (cut back calories and use turkey sausage if you prefer)
  • 2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 T. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 cup white wine
  • 1 cup half and half cream
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 cups Arugula
  • freshly grated pecorino romano to serve

Directions :

  1. Put water in a large pot over medium-high heat and allow to come to a boil.
  2. Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and cook onions until soft and starting to brown.  Add garlic and cook another 30 seconds until fragrant before adding your sausage.  Cook until browned; about 5-6 minutes.  You want to crumble the sausage up to manageable bite size pieces.  Add tomatoes and cook another 3 minutes stirring gently so as not to break up the tomatoes too much.  Add the wine next and allow to start bubbling in your skillet for a minute or so before adding the cream.  Allow sauce to simmer like this as you cook the pasta.
  3. At this point your pasta water should be boiling and you can go ahead and throw in the Orecchiette.  Cook 10 minutes, but don’t drain because you may need some of the pasta water for your sauce.  Rather using a slotted spoon transfer the pasta to the skillet and gently toss around to coat evenly.  If the sauce if too thick add a bit of the pasta water.  Next throw in the Arugula and stir allowing to wilt.  Salt and pepper to taste.  Remove from heat and serve topped with the fresh grated cheese.

Recipe from skinnyluscious


Published in: on January 21, 2013 at 8:50 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Enchilada Pasta Skillet

Tonight’s meal is definitely one from the comfort food department.  Like many of the recipes I share on here, this comes together easily and in pretty good time.  It’s been a while since I made actual enchiladas, but this seems much easier without all the filling and rolling and extra dishes.  Everything goes together in one pan for this dish.  Flavor isn’t exactly like a typical enchilada, likely because of the pasta vs. tortillas, but it’s very good nonetheless.

The recipe, which again came off foodgawker (another one of those that caught my attention with a lovely picture), didn’t specify a type of pasta, so I used orecchiette which I had on hand which worked nicely.  They act like little bowls to scoop up the sauce nicely.  I imagine shells would work nicely for this reason too.  Just watch carefully during cook-time for your chosen pasta to reach the al dente stage before moving on to the next step.  I actually used this recipe as an excuse to finally go out and buy a cast iron skillet, which I have been wanting for a long time, because I am too scared to put my Rachel Ray set in the oven.  Make sure you have an oven safe skillet to make this in if you plan to broil the cheese on top at the end.  This makes a large skillet full, so be sure to use the biggest one you have too.

Enchilada Pasta Skillet

Serves : 4                 Time to make : 35-40 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 2 T. olive oil, divided
  • salt and pepper
  • 1 LB chicken, cut into bite sized pieces
  • 1/2 onion, chopped
  • 1/2 red pepper, chopped
  • 1 (14.5 oz) can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 2 (1o oz) cans enchilada sauce
  • 1 cup chicken broth
  • 1 tsp. Tabasco (Dh said it was a bit much for him so you might want to try half first)
  • 2 oz. Velveeta cheese or shredded cheese (I used a shredded Mexican blend)
  • 8 oz. pasta
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar (I used the Mexican blend again)
  • sour cream, cilantro, scallions

Directions :

  1. Heat 1 T. oil in a large skillet over medium heat.  Season chicken with salt and pepper and place in skillet.  Brown on all sides; about 5-7 minutes.  Transfer chicken to a plate and cover loosely with foil.
  2. Wipe out skillet and heat remaining T of oil over medium heat.  Add onions and peppers and cook until tender stirring frequently; about 5 minutes.  Add beans, enchilada sauce, chicken broth, Tabasco, first portion of cheese, and pasta.  Cover and cook at a low simmer until pasta is al dente, stirring occasionally to prevent anything from sticking to the bottom.  Depending on what type of pasta you chose this should take about 10 minutes.   Once you have reached al dente add back in your chicken and continue to cook uncovered until chicken if fully cooked through and sauce thickens; about another 3-5 minutes.
  3. Add remaining cheese to the top and place under broiler for a minute until cheese melts, watching carefully.  Top with a generous dollop of sour cream, chopped scallions, and cilantro either in the skillet or in each individual dish.


Cheddar Mac & Ham Casserole

If that doesn’t scream comfort food I don’t know what does!  Chances are you already have to make Mac and Cheese at least once a week for your little ones, but if you have to eat it I say you should at least enjoy it.  I am not a fan of Mac and Cheese by itself, but I LOVE it like this.  Most shocking thing of all though is how low calorie this recipe is…. relative to how much you can eat at least!  I am going to make myself sound like a pig, but when I make this I portion it into three servings.  So for an entire third of a casserole it’s only about 600 calories!  That’s a heaping plate full of cheesey, yummy goodness!

I think I came across this recipe on a site called Key Ingredient, which for those that aren’t familiar, is a recipe sharing site that goes along with the Demy (an electronic recipe reader).  The only thing I have changed from the original recipe was to pre-cook the ham a bit because I don’t care for the fatty chewy parts and that eliminates the issue.  I have tried this with an alfredo type Mac and Cheese and it was also VERY good, but normally I stick to the four cheese like it calls for.  When I am not counting calories I eyeball the ham and cheese and probably end up with more than it calls for, but it is great either way.  I also often put a little more peas than it calls for, but I figure that is actually healthier.  As for the ham… it calls for a half lb, but every time I go to the store and ask the deli counter for half a lb cut thick (sometimes I buy a ham steak from the meat section too) they end up giving me closer to 3/4-1 lb and I just throw it all in if I am not worried about the extra calories that day.

Anyway, I definitely recommend this one, and think it will easily become a regular in your dinner rotation.

Cheddar Mac & Ham Casserole

Serves : 3-4                       Time to make : 25 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 1 (14 oz) box of 4 cheese Deluxe Mac & Cheese
  • 1/2 lb Ham, cubed
  • 1 C. frozen peas (I use more like 1.5 cups)
  • 1/2 cup fat free milk (or whatever you have)
  • 1/2 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Directions :

  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Also start a large pot of water to boiling.
  2. Meanwhile cook the ham in a skillet over medium-high heat until browned, about 4 minutes.  I find this not only eliminates the chewy parts of the ham, but it just adds more depth to the flavor so I suggest you don’t skip this step.  I usually add just a tad bit of water (like a T.) towards the end of the cook time to the skillet to help get up some of the browned bits in the pan and keep it moist and flavorful.  Set aside.
  3. Once water is boiling add your pasta and cook for 8-10 minutes.  Drain pasta then add the cheese packet and stir until well combined. 
  4. Next add the milk, peas, and ham.
  5. Pour into a baking dish and sprinkle cheese over top.  Bake for 15 minutes.


Day 60 : Braided Chili Dog Parcel

Finally!  A day and night have gone by without anyone in my house puking!  In order to celebrate I decided to make something a little fun for dinner.  Chili and hotdogs is such a comfort dish for many families.  I thought why not give them something they are comfortable with in a new way?!  I honestly wasn’t sure it would even work, or that it was the best method, but it turned out fairly well even despite a few mistakes on my part that I was able to learn from.  There may be other ways to incorporate the idea of the puff pastry…. perhaps in ramekins as individual pies…. but it was worth the trouble when I saw the surprised look on my family’s faces when they realized the chili was inside the pastry!

I really enjoyed the added texture of the somewhat doughy and somewhat crisp pastry.  I also liked the addition of the chili powder and cumin to canned chili which is pretty mild in flavor I find.  I used nitrate free hotdogs for ours, but feel free to use whatever you like.  I also used velveeta since I had it on hand and it melts fast and creamy, but any cheese you want is fine.


Braided Chili Dog Parcel

Serves : 3              Time to make : 35 minutes

Ingredients :

  • 1 sheet puff pastry, thawed
  • flour, for rolling out pastry
  • 3 hotdogs
  • 1 can chili
  • 1/2 cup onion, chopped
  • 4 oz velveeta cheese, cubed
  • 1 tsp. chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp. cumin
  • 1 egg
  • cheddar cheese

Directions :

  1. If you haven’t done so already, thaw out the pastry sheet.  It takes 30 minutes or so.
  2. Slice hotdogs and fry in a skillet for a couple of minutes.  Add onions and fry a minute or so more.
  3. Add the chili, cumin, chili powder, and heat through.  Add the velveeta and heat until melted in.
  4. Turn off burner and set aside.
  5. Flour your counter surface and rolling pin liberally and then roll out your pastry sheet to about a 13 inch x 15 inch rectangle.
  6. Put foil on a cookie sheet and lightly coat with cooking spray.
  7. Move your pastry onto the sheet before doing this next step because it is nearly impossible to move aftewards as I learned the hard way lol.
  8. Leaving a 4 inch wide strip down the center (the long way) cut strips on both sides about an inch wide.
  9. Spoon your chili mixture into the center, taking care to keep it in the solid section as best you can.
  10. Alternating sides, pull the side strips up and over the mixture in an X pattern, and pinch the ends sealed.
  11. Beat egg with a splash of water in a bowl and then brush over the top of your pastry parcel.
  12. Bake in a 400 degree oven about 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown on top.  Sprinkle a bit of cheddar cheese on top the last minute or so if you want.
  13. To remove to a platter, lift up the foil and slide it off with a spatula very slowly.