3 Cheese Stuffed Pasta Shells

cheese shells

There is something about stuffed pasta shells that sounds fancy and hard. There is something about making them that is easy and fun.  It’s economical and great made ahead.  

My first love is taking something to friends that maybe they don’t make themselves.  It’s hard, as most of my friends are excellent cooks.  I have made this several times over the past few weeks and everyone gives it two thumbs up.  Add a salad and a loaf of French bread and call it dinner!

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Chinese-Style Glazed Pork Tenderloin

You know you have faith in a recipe when you post it before you even try it. I posted this about a year ago and have made it several times since. It’s so good and is one of the few meats that even gets thumbs up from my son! If you haven’t cooked with hoisin sauce or five-spice powder, you should! They are so good – you can find them in the Asian section. Enjoy!

Leftover pork makes an excellent addition to fried rice or noodle soup. Serves 4-6.

2(12- to 16-ounce) pork tenderloins, trimmed
1/2cup soy sauce
1/2cup apricot preserves
1/4cup hoisin sauce
1/4cup dry sherry
2tablespoons grated fresh ginger
1tablespoon toasted sesame oil
2garlic cloves, minced
1teaspoon five-spice powder
1teaspoon pepper
1/4cup ketchup
1tablespoon molasses
2teaspoons vegetable oil
Lay tenderloins on cutting board with long side running parallel to counter edge. Cut horizontally down length of tenderloins, stopping ½ inch from edge so halves remain intact. Working with one at a time, open up tenderloins, place between 2 sheets of plastic wrap, and pound to ¾-inch thickness.
Combine soy sauce, preserves, hoisin sauce, sherry, ginger, sesame oil, garlic, five-spice powder, and pepper in bowl. Reserve ¾ cup marinade. Place pork in large zipper-lock bag and pour remaining marinade into bag with pork. Seal bag, turn to coat, and refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or up to 4 hours.
Combine reserved marinade, ketchup, and molasses in small saucepan. Cook over medium heat until syrupy and reduced to ¾ cup, 3 to 5 minutes. Reserve ¼ cup glaze for glazing cooked tenderloin.
FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent completely. Light large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over grill. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent completely. Heat grill until hot, about 5 minutes.
FOR A GAS GRILL: Turn all burners to high, cover, and heat grill until hot, about 15 minutes. Turn all burners to medium-high.
Clean and oil cooking grate. Pat pork dry with paper towels, then rub with vegetable oil. Grill pork (covered if using gas) until lightly charred on first side, about 2 minutes. Flip and brush grilled side of pork evenly with 2 tablespoons glaze. Continue grilling until lightly charred on second side, about 2 minutes. Flip and brush evenly with 2 more tablespoons glaze. Repeat flipping and glazing twice more, until pork registers 140 degrees and is thickly glazed, about 4 minutes longer. Transfer pork to cutting board and brush with reserved glaze. Tent loosely with aluminum foil and let rest for 5 minutes. Slice and serve.

Back to School Baked Ziti

Friends that take a cookbook to bed and read it like it is a good novel  warm my heart.  On a hot summer day, my friend and neighbor and I, Adrienne,  found ourselves chatting the afternoon away about good recipes.  Another year of back to school and the obvious question, what will we make for dinner?   She shared with me a couple of her faves, and now they are my faves.  Enjoy!

Baked Ziti

8 oz. ziti pasta, cooked and drained
1/2 lb. ground beef
2 onions, diced
1/2 T. minced garlic
3 c. spaghetti sauce
2 c. cottage cheese
1/2 c. parmesan cheese
1 egg. lightly beaten
1/4 c. chopped parsley (or 1 T dry parsley)
1 t. garlic powder
1/2 T. Italian seasoning
1/2 c to 1 c mozzarella cheese
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Spray pan with Pam.  You may use one 9×13 or two 9×9 pans.
Saute onion in olive oil until clear, add garlic and cook for one minute.  Add meat and Italian seasoning.  Cook until meat is brown.  Add sauce.  Cook 2/3 minutes and set aside.
Combine in a large bowl-cottage cheese, parmesan cheese, egg, parsley, and garlic powder. Add to ziti.
Spread enough meat sauce to make a thin layer on the bottom of the pan.  Spread ziti mixture next, then meat sauce.  Cover with foil .  Bake 35 to 40 minutes until bubbly.  Remove foil and add mozarella cheese and cook until cheese is melted.
Note:  The healthier version is very good.  Use whole wheat ziti pasta, ground turkey, fat free cottage cheese, reduced fat parmesan and mozzarella cheeses.  I used only one onion and it was tasty.

 

Turkey Chili with White Beans

It’s cold and rainy here in Texas, and it has me in the mood for chili! (And of course, by cold, I mean 60 degrees – brrrr!) I made and froze some cornbread a few weeks ago, and it will be just the thing to serve with chili for an easy meal. 

I have made this recipe for years, ever since having it at my Portland neighbor Stacy’s house. She served it over rice, which I think is such a great way to have a complete meal in a bowl.

chili_tilt

I love how flexible it is – I usually use turkey, but beef can substituted. And although the original recipe calls for white beans, my boys prefer black beans, so I make it with those or a mixture.

I also love the intrigue of a secret ingredient, and this one has two. First, a heaping tablespoon of cocoa powder – doesn’t chocolate make everything better? And second, some cinnamon. Nobody will be able to put their finger on what it is, but trust me, it’s delicious.

The recipe has been adapted from Epicurious.

chili_straightdown

1 tablespoon vegetable oil
2 medium onions, chopped
1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
1 1/2 pounds lean ground turkey (or beef)
1/4 cup chili powder
2 bay leaves
1 heaping tablespoon unsweetened cocoa powder
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 28-ounce can whole tomatoes (or crushed if your gang doesn’t like chunks)
3 cups beef stock or canned beef broth
1 8-ounce can tomato sauce
3 15-ounce cans small white beans, rinsed, drained (or black, pinto, kidney… you get the idea)

Chopped red onion
Chopped fresh cilantro
Plain low-fat yogurt or light sour cream

Heat oil in heavy large pot over medium heat. Add onions; sauté until light brown and tender, about 10 minutes. Add oregano and cumin; stir 1 minute. Increase heat to medium-high. Add turkey; stir until no longer pink, breaking up with back of spoon. Stir in chili powder, bay leaves, cocoa powder, salt and cinnamon. Add tomatoes with their juices, breaking up with back of spoon. Mix in stock and tomato sauce. Bring to boil. Reduce heat; simmer 45 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Add beans to chili and simmer until flavors blend, about 10 minutes longer. Discard bay leaves. (Can be prepared 1 day ahead. Cover and refrigerate. Rewarm over medium-low heat before continuing.)

Ladle chili into bowls. Pass red onion, cilantro and yogurt separately.