Thursday, April 14, 2011

Rigatoni Ready

I love cooking, but sometimes I feel like switching things up a bit, and preparing dinner earlier than normal, so the kitchen will be clean before dinner is served.  Then, I'm ready to relax and read a book or have fun watching the Food Network, Hell's Kitchen, or American Idol. 

Baked Rigatoni

1 lb. Italian turkey sausage cut in 1" pieces
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, minced
Salt and pepper
2 small zucchini, sliced in 1/4" rounds
1 yellow squash, sliced in 1/4" rounds
6 oz. Baby Bella mushrooms, cut in quarters or eighths, depending on the size
1 24-oz, jar pasta sauce such as Classico Spicy Tomato and Basil
1/4 cup red wine
1 lb. rigatoni
2 cups shredded mozzarella

Pour olive oil in a Dutch oven.  Add sausage, onions, garlic, and salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until sausage is browned and onions are translucent.  Add zucchini, yellow squash, mushrooms, pasta sauce, and wine.  Simmer gently while heating a large pot of salted water for the rigatoni.  When the rigatoni is al dente, drain, and add it to the sauce. Pour into a 15 x 10 baking dish and sprinkle with mozzarella.  Cover and refrigerate until ready to use.  Heat oven to 350.  Bake for 45 minutes or until the sauce is bubbly and the top is browned.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Easy Birthday Fruit Tart

Yesterday was my birthday, so I decided to keep it easy, and to still create a yummy dessert.  I had a tart crust in the freezer, so I thawed it, rolled it to an oval shape, placed it on a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet, then pinched up the sides to create an edge.  (If you don't have your own frozen dough, purchased puff pastry is also good.) 

Next, I peeled four Granny Smith apples and used my new handy dandy Dial-a-Slice Apple Divider ( ) to cut them into small segments.  I then started layering the slices around the edge and worked my way to the middle.  It actually looked like a giant rose.  Then, I sprinkled about 1/3 cup of granulated sugar over the apples, and dotted the tart with 1/4 cup of butter.  I baked it at 400 for 40 minutes. 

When the tart was browned, I removed it from the oven and let it cool. The final step was to combine 1/4 cup of black raspberry seedless preserves with 1 tablespoon of dark rum in a saucepan and to stir until warm.  I used a silicone pastry brush to slather the apples with the boozy mixture.  It was fantastic!

Monday, April 4, 2011

Great Find for Your Cookbook Collection

From Our House to Yours: Comfort Food to Give and Share" I found this cookbook at a library sale last summer, and it has been handier than I thought possible. The book is a compilation of recipes by the Editors of Chronicle Books, and benefits Meals On Wheels of San Francisco.  The recipes are from famous cookbook authors or chefs such as the recipe for Potato and Portobello Mushroom Casserole by Hubert Keller of Fleur de Lys restaurant.  I have used this book several times when trying to get ideas about food that travels well.  I highly recommend it if you need a quick and tasty dish for someone just home from the hospital, to welcome a new neighbor, or to hold an old school potluck dinner.  Here is a recipe I recently developed that was inspired by From Our House to Yours.

Robyn's Stuffed Peppers
6 large bell peppers
1 lb. mild Italian sausage
1 lb. hamburger
Garlic salt and pepper to taste
8 oz. mushrooms, cut into chunks
1 14-oz. can Italian diced tomatoes
1 small onion, chopped
1 T. oregano or Italian spices
Slice tops off peppers, and clean out seeds and ribs.  Bring a large pot of salted water to boil.  Boil the peppers for 5 minutes.   Drain and sprinkle salt on the inside of each.
Mix the meats together thoroughly.  Place in a large frying pan and sprinkle with garlic salt and pepper.  Add onions, and cook over medium heat until brown.  Stir in mushrooms and cook for 2 more minutes.  Drain.  Add tomatoes with juices and oregano. 
Spoon mixture into bell peppers.
Bake uncovered at 350° for 20-25 minutes.