Monday, February 17, 2014

Homestyle Marinara w/ Chicken and Whole Grain Rotini

My husband and my son are pasta lovers. They could eat it everyday! I am not a pasta lover. I have always loved Italian sauces, but the pasta, no, it wasn't my thing. But last night I decided to cook some whole grain rotini I bought last week at the grocery. What a treat! It was so good-maybe I do love pasta! I covered the pasta with a homemade marinara that is simple, quick, and tasty! That actually describes the entire meal!
Homestyle Marinara w/ Chicken and Whole Grain Rotini 
1-28 ounce can of Whole Peeled Tomatoes
1-2 cloves Garlic
Vegetable Oil
1-2 teaspoons Dried Italian Seasoning
Pinch of Sugar
1 Bay Leaf
1 box Barilla Whole Grain Rotini Pasta
1 pound raw Chicken Breasts
Vegetable Spray
Cheese-Mozzarella or Provolone
Place your can of tomatoes in your food processor and puree them.
If you don't mind tomato pieces in your sauce, there is no 
need to puree. I have some picky eaters in this house! You can 
just chop the tomatoes into small bite sizes pieces.
It will look nice and smooth like this.
Chop up your garlic clove.
Heat your garlic clove in the vegetable oil.
Once your garlic pieces start to brown go ahead and
add your sauce to the pan.
Add 2 teaspoons of dried italian seasoning, a pinch of sugar
 and 1 bay leaf. Let simmer for 30-40 minutes.
Boil the water and cook your pasta.
Cut your chicken into bite size pieces and grill them
in a pan sprayed with vegetable spray.
Put it altogether. I layered rotini pasta in the bottom, sauce
on top, then chicken, more sauce, and then cheese. I used the rotini
because all the edges in the pasta hold the sauce. That is also why I
served this in bowls. I used a 4 cheese mix because that is what
I had on hand. It was actually pretty good on the pasta!


Thursday, February 13, 2014

Cherry Coke Parfait!


This month the ingredients for the Behind the Curtain Dessert Challenge are coca cola and cherry. Since I  officially became a resident of the south this past December, I felt it was time to embrace my new home, and make my first official cola cake. I have heard about these cakes before, but until now, I had never made one. I am sure glad I did. It is moist and has those yummy pockets of marshmallow that just make your mouth smile! I cut the cake into small bites, stuffed it in a mason jar, piled on some cherries, topped it with whipped cream, and make Cherry Coke Parfaits. Yum! I hope you enjoy them!
Cherry Coke Parfait
(cake recipe from Cake Doctor)
1 package White Cake Mix
4 tablespoons Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
8 tablespoons Butter-melted
1 cup Cola
1/2 cup Buttermilk
2 large Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla 
1 1/2 cups Mini Marshmallows
1 can Comstock Canned Cherries
1 cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1/2 cup Confectioners Sugar
1 teaspoon Vanilla

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
Spray a 13'x9' pan with vegetable cooking spray.
Don't add flour.
Put the cake mix, cocoa powder, melted butter, cola,
buttermilk, eggs and vanilla in your mixing bowl. Blend on low 
for 1 minute, then kick it up to medium for 2 more minutes.
Scrape down the sides of your bowl. 
Add the mini marshmallows, and fold them into the batter.
Place the batter into your baking dish and cook for 40-42 minutes.
Let it cool for 15 minutes. 
Once cool, cut some of the pieces into small bite sizes.
Place the small pieces in the bottom of your jar or cup.
Top with some cherries.
Then add another layer of cake and a layer of cherries.
Pour your heavy whipping cream into your mixing bowl.
Start to mix on medium using a whisk beater.
 Add your sugar and vanilla.
Turn mixer to high and mix until the cream becomes
whipped cream.
Place whipped cream in a pastry bag,
and use Wilton M tip to top the parfait.
Garnish the whipped cream with
hearts or chocolate sprinkles!
Enjoy your Cherry Coke Parfait!
Thank you for stopping by The Freshman Cook Today!
I am so glad you did!

Check below for all the other entries in the Dessert Challenge:
 

Lady Behind the Curtain Dessert Challenge

 

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Hearts and Kisses Valentine Popcorn!


Here is a quick, cute Valentine popcorn that everyone will love! 
It is quick to make, uses minimal ingredients, and it is pretty much loved by all.
And, it looks pretty!
Hearts and Kisses Popcorn
 2 bags Popped Popcorn
1 cup White Candy Melts
Valentine Conversation Hearts
Mini Hershey Kisses
1 cup Pink Candy Melts


Pop your popcorn. Let it cool. That happens pretty fast anyway!
Melt the white candy melts in the microwave or a double boiler.
Pour the melted white candy melts over the popcorn
and mix well so they are all coated.
Spread the covered popcorn out over a baking sheet.
Place conversation hearts in the popcorn, trying to get it to
hold to the popcorn with the wet candy melt.
Do the same thing with the mini kisses, placing them
where you want them. Let dry.
Melt the pink candy melts in the microwave or double boiler.
Place the melted pink melts in a squeeze bottle, 
and squeeze all over the popcorn, hearts, and kisses.
Go in one direction. . . . . .
and then in the other. This looks pretty, but it is also to 
secure the candies to the popcorn. You really can't 
use too much pink!
Once the popcorn is dry, gently break it into pieces .
Serve in cups or plastic bags tied with ribbons!

Thanks for dropping by The Freshman Cook today!
 



Monday, February 10, 2014

Chocolate and Cherry Cake Pudding from an "oops"!

Every once in a while, I find myself facing a dilemma because I have made some food, usually from a recipe I am trying to create myself, or put my spin on, and some where along the way it goes all haywire! So, my dilemma is ~ what do I do with the food that didn't work out? In this case, the food in question is 24 mini cupcakes that I made with a new to me recipe from a cook book I received for Christmas. I changed it a little, and added a red swirl into the batter, and they looked great. Then I took a bite~very dry and not very good! So disappointing! The only thing I could think to do is make bread pudding, but from a cake? I wasn't too sure. I read a little bit about cake puddings and if they could be done. The consensus was that they were often soggy because cake absorbs so much more of the milk than bread does. But, I thought it was worth a try. So I cut the cupcakes into small pieces and left them to dry out. I made a basic bread pudding, with a few additions, and it is very good. It is rich and has the deep flavors that are found in bread puddings. I added cherry infused dried cranberries and milk chocolate chips, and I am so happy I could turn my "oops" in a "yum"!

 Chocolate and Cherry Cake Pudding
 23 mini Cupcakes-baked
4 Eggs
2 cups Heavy Cream
1/3 cup Sugar
1/2 teaspoon Cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon Vanilla
dash Salt
1/3 cup Cherry infused Dried Cranberries
1/3 cup Milk Chocolate Chips

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
These are the cupcakes I started with. They look so pretty,
but they don't deliver on taste. So, on to Cake Pudding!
Cut the cupcakes into small pieces.
In your mixing bowl, add the eggs, cream, sugar,
cinnamon, vanilla, and salt.
Beat together and mix well.
Fill your ramekins 1/2 full with cupcake pieces.
Add chocolate chips and cherry cranberries.
Add more of the cupcake pieces and more chocolate chips 
and cherry cranberries. All of these things are 
divided between the number of ramekins you use. I used 3,
and they are 5 ounces each. You may get more or less,
depending on the size of your ramekins. You can also 
use an 8'x8" baking dish also.
Fill the ramekins with the egg and cream mix.
Fill to the very top.
Ready for the oven. 
Cook for 40-45 minutes. They are done when 
you can insert a knife in the center, and it comes out clean.
Let cool slightly. Eat when warm.
These would be great for your Valentine's Day dinner!

Thanks for dropping by The Freshman Cook today!
I am so glad you did!

Friday, February 7, 2014

Reese's Heart Mini Brownies


These Reese Heart Mini Brownies are bite size bits of heaven! I am serious!! 
They are gooey, chocolatey, rich, and mini! What more is there?
 Oh, they are quick to make also! Everyone will want one, so be sure to make plenty. 
So good! They make you say "mmmmmmm"!

Reese Heart Mini Brownies
4 ounces Ghiradelli Bittersweet Chocolate Bar
4 ounces Ghirardelli Semi Sweet Chocolate Bar
3/4 cup Butter
1/4 cup Water
1 cup Sugar
3/4 cup packed Dark Brown Sugar
2 Eggs
1 teaspoon Vanilla
1 1/3 cup Flour
pinch salt
Reese Heart Candy
These are the two chocolate bars that I used. 
Chop your chocolate and .......
your butter into small pieces, so they will melt evenly.
Melt the chocolate, butter and water together in a double boiler
on your stove. Set the heat on low. 
When the mixture becomes melted and smooth....
pour it in to the bottom of your mixing bowl.
Add both sugars and beat with your mixer on low,
until combined and smooth.
Add your eggs and mix on medium. 
Add vanilla.
Add your flour and salt. Mix together on low.
I used muffin cups for my brownies. Some of the first ones
stuck to the paper, so I sprayed the next batch with 
pan spray. That worked much better.
Fill each cup with your batter until about 3/4" full.
Bake for 15 minutes. 
While your brownies are baking,
 unwrap the Reese's Heart candies. 
Once your brownies are done baking,
let them cool for 10 minutes.
Then place a Reese's heart on each brownie. 
They will sink in a little and start to melt.
Refrigerate for these to set up quickly, or they will set up 
over time while covered. Of course, if you are like me,
and have no self control what so ever, eat one now, while they are hot
and the Reese's heart is melting! mmmmmmm!

Thanks for joining The Freshman Cook today!
I am so glad you stopped by!