Tuesday, June 26, 2012

TIO Tuesday - BLT Pasta Salad

This past weekend we had the opportunity to host a family get-together with my mom's cousins from Colorado and Hawaii. I don't think I have ever met Deb, Joyce and their husbands before. They are slightly older than my mom and don't get here to visit much. My great Uncle Melvin and Aunt Ann also were able to come with their daughters, Kari and Kim. It was a last minute thing to have it at my house, but I was happy to host. Hailey and Jackson wanted to help decorate and I figured they would make posters or something like that. While I was preparing the BLT Pasta Salad, they went upstairs to get the decorations ready. When they returned downstairs about an hour later, they had made the coolest Lego creations to honor our guests. I was impressed as was everyone else. I think they did a fabulous job, and all on their own. Don't they look great?!

I did have to make a dish to share, and given my recent passion for pasta salad, I chose a BLT Pasta Salad, found in the latest issue of Cuisine at Home. I loved all the ingredients and I've been wanting to try out the campanelle pasta, so it was a perfect fit. I mean how can you go wrong when there are bacon drippings in the dressing? 
This is the smaller batch that I brought to our neighbors for them to try. I tried a small sample of this before putting the rest of it in the refrigerator without the bacon. I do this with all pasta salads so they can cool and the dressing has time to come together. I have to say, it was much better fresh, not chilled. Something happens to the dressing after it's chilled and it loses a lot of the bacon flavor that it has when it's fresh. So, while it was still a great salad, I'll know better for next time.

BLT Pasta Salad with creamy bacon dressing
1 lb. dry campanelle pasta
1 lb. thick sliced bacon, diced
1/2 c. mayo
2 tbsp. minced shallots
2 tbsp. minced fresh basil
2 tbsp. cider vinegar
2 tsp. sugar
Salt and black pepper to taste
Stir in:
4 cups chopped romaine lettuce
4 cups halved grape tomatoes

Cook pasta in a large pot of boiling salted water according to package directions. Transfer pasta to a bowl of ice water, drain well.
Cook bacon in large non-stick skillet over medium heat until crisp. Transfer bacon to a paper-towel lined plate. Reserve 3 tbsp. drippings; set aside to cool.
Whisk together mayo, reserved drippings, shallots, basil, vinegar, and sugar in a large bowl; season with salt and pepper.
Stir in pasta, romaine, tomatoes and bacon; toss to coat. Season salad with salt and pepper.

*** I'm quite certain I broke a few copyright laws, but there are no links to recipes on their website, and I did provide the link to that, it counts a little - right? I'm slightly frustrated by the fact that I actually had to retype all that... Shhh, don't tell!

~ Misty

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

TIO Tuesday - Chicken Enchilada Bites

I'm always looking for a good appetizer recipe, particularly one that I can throw together quickly with what I have on hand. We were invited to a birthday party right after an event we had last month. I had no time to come up with anything fancy. I had prepared chicken tacos for us to eat during our event and we had a bunch of the mixture left. I figured there had to be a way to make something for an appetizer out of it. I came up with a quick version of chicken enchiladas, in a bite size format. They were absolutely delish!  The recipe was a sort of combobulation (is that a word?) of different things I have made before.
I will try to recount it as best I can, bare with me:
Chicken Enchilada Bites
(recipe modified - drastically! - from Chicken Enchiladas)
Chicken taco filling (this comes from one of my favorite crock pot recipes - chicken breasts, can of rotel and one taco packet. Cook on low for a few hours and shred- Genius!)
Won ton wrappers
1/2 cup onion, diced
1/2 tsp. each - chili powder, garlic powder and cumin
1 cup shredded co-jack cheese, plus extra for topping
Cream cheese - 4 oz or so

Preheat oven to 350. Spray muffin tins with cooking spray, place won ton wrappers in each and bake 5-7 minutes.
Saute onions in oil until soft. Add seasonings and cream cheese, cook until cream cheese is softened. Add chicken taco mixture, and co-jack cheese. Combine all, use a cookie scoop to fill won ton wrappers and top with additional cheese. Bake for 7-10 minutes until cheese on top is melted.
Serve warm!
*** I originally tried it in the mini-muffin tins and they were too small. They are still a great bite size with the regular muffin tin.

This got rave reviews from everyone and will definitely be an appetizer I make again!

~ Misty

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

TIO Tuesday - Lemon Lemon Cake

Jackson has been begging me to make Lemon Cake. I'm not sure why exactly, I don't recall making it before or where he would have eaten it? He hasn't let up on it and even put it on our summer Bucket List. I finally submitted and bought a bunch of lemons. After finding this recipe earlier, we made it this morning. Jackson helped with just about everything. We only had a few hiccups with the recipe, my fault, not his.
This biggest downfall to this recipe is it took quite a while to put together. Part of that was because I had "help" and the other due to all the ingredients, measuring and prepping. It takes quite a while to squeeze and zest all those lemons!
We did two loaves, although they were slightly different in size. 
Final product, very lemony! Kids loved it, except Anderson. I don't think he likes lemon anyway, so it's not really a reflection on the cake. We will definitely make this again - after I get a lemon juicer!

Lemon Lemon Cake
Source: Baked: New Frontiers in Baking

1 1/2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
2 1/4 cups sugar
8 large eggs, at room temperature
1/4 cup grated lemon zest (from about 4 lemons)
1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
2 cups (4 sticks) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1/2 cup sour cream, at room temperature
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
1/3 cup fresh lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar
2 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted, or more if needed
4 to 6 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Spray the sides and bottom of two 9-by-5-by-3-inch loaf pans with nonstick cooking spray. Line the bottom with parchment paper and spray the paper.
Sift both flours, baking powder, baking soda, and salt together in a medium bowl.
Put the sugar, eggs, lemon zest, and lemon juice in a food processor and pulse until combined. With the motor running, drizzle the butter in through the feed tube. Add the sour cream and vanilla and pulse until combined. Transfer the mixture to a large bowl.
Sprinkle the flour mixture, one third at a time, folding gently after each addition until just combined. Do not overmix.
Divide the batter evenly between the prepared pans. Bake in the center of the oven for 20 minutes, rotate the pans, reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F., and bake for another 30 to 35 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean.
Let cool in the pans for 15 minutes.
In a small saucepan over medium heat, heat the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once dissolved, continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.
Line a half sheet pan with parchment paper and invert the loaves onto the pan. Use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops and sides of the loaves.
Brush the tops and sides of the loaves with the lemon syrup. Let the syrup soak into the cake and brush again. Let the cakes cool completely, at least 30 minutes.
(The soaked but unglazed loaves will keep, wrapped in two layers of plastic wrap and frozen, for up to 6 weeks.)
In a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and 4 tablespoons of the lemon juice. The mixture should be thick but pourable. If the mixture is too stiff, add up to another 2 tablespoons lemon juice and whisk again, adding small amounts of lemon juice and/or confectioners’ sugar until you get the right consistency. Pour the lemon glaze over the top of each loaf and let it drip down the sides. Let the lemon glaze harden, about 15 minutes, before serving.
The glazed loaves will keep for up to 3 days, wrapped tightly in plastic wrap, at room temperature.

~ Misty

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

TIO Tuesday - Baked Chicken Ziti

Okay, apparently yesterday was Tuesday?! Yes, I'm a day late. I have gotten over it, I hope you can too. I just haven't coordinated my summer schedule yet, and I can't guarantee this won't happen again, but I hope it doesn't. Now that we have that out of the way!!!
I semi-sorta created this one. I had purchased some ziti pasta a while back, although for what recipe, I can't quite remember. Obviously that never came to fruition, hence the box of ziti waiting to be used. I also had left over shredded chicken in the freezer - as everyone should, truly a life saver. A quick search revealed many variations of the same, so I made up my own. It's very simple, not rocket science, but a nice change from spaghetti or lasagna.
1 box cooked ziti pasta
2 cups cooked, shredded chicken
1 jar pasta sauce (I used an Italian sausage and garlic blend)
1 can petite diced tomatoes, drained
2 cups mozzarella, plus more for topping
Season as desired. I used more oregano, garlic and Morton's Nature Seasoning.

Mix all, top with remainder of cheese, bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes.

Yes, it was family and Brad approved!
~ Misty