Monday, July 26, 2010

Italian Nachos

There is a restaurant in Colorado called "Old Chicago". I know its lots of other places too. But you know where its not? California, of course.

I can't speak to the rest of their menu except for one incredibly fantastic item:
The Italian Nachos.

They are a-mazingly delicious. Being a lover of all things "nacho", there is no way for me to not be in love with this treat. This version is just a little twist on the traditional and it works. Works quite well, actually.

Since I currently don't have access to an Old Chicago, I finally tried to re-create this delectable appetizer on my own. The Old Chicago website describes Italian Nachos as "Golden pasta chips piled high with Mozzarella, pepperoni, Italian sausage and pepperoncinis. Served with our signature pizza sauce."

Easy enough, right? Except that in a quick search for copycat recipes I found people using tortilla chips, pita chips, basically anything but pasta chips. Really?
I got mad at these people.

So I just used the listed ingredients, substituting some crispy "chips" made from wonton wrapper for the pasta chips...and ended up with a pretty. dang. good copycat.

I suggest trying these at home. No recipe needed - just fry up some wonton wrappers (cut each wrapper in half first), then place in a single layer on a foil-lined baking sheet. Top with pepperoni, Italian sausage, pepperoncinis, and lots of mozzarella cheese. Broil for a few minutes in the oven until the cheese melt and ENJOY.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Macaroni Mambo

I found this recipe on Eating Well, and although it seemed like a glorified hamburger helper, it had lots of good ingredients and was something even Baby Madyson could eat, so I went for it.

The only issue was that it was originally called "Hamburger Buddy". Seriously. How unappetizing is that name? It sounds like a toy from a happy meal or something, not dinner. So I decided that if I were going to take a chance with this one, it would have to be called something different. And that is how we came to enjoy Macaroni Mambo.

Its pretty good, and I think I'll be making it again because you can disguise lots of veggies in it (I added in some fresh spinach) and the overall flavor is mild enough for picky eaters.

adapted from Eating Well
3 cloves garlic, crushed and peeled
2 medium carrots, cut into 2-inch pieces
10 ounces white mushrooms, large ones cut in half
1 large onion, cut into 2-inch pieces
1 pound 90%-lean ground beef
1/4 tsp. ground thyme
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper
4 cups beef broth, divided
8 ounces whole-wheat elbow noodles, (2 cups)
1 cup fresh spinach, chopped
2 Tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
2 Tbsp. tomato paste
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
1/2 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1 Tbsp.chopped fresh parsley, or chives for garnish


1.Fit a food processor with the steel blade attachment. With the motor running, drop garlic through the feed tube and process until minced, then add carrots and mushrooms and process until finely chopped. Turn it off, add onion, and pulse until roughly chopped.

2.Cook beef in a large straight-sided skillet or Dutch oven over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until no longer pink, 3 to 5 minutes. Stir in the chopped vegetables, thyme, salt and pepper and cook, stirring often, until the vegetables start to soften and the mushrooms release their juices, 5 to 7 minutes.

3.Stir in water, 1 1/2 cups broth, noodles, spinach and Worcestershire sauce; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, until the pasta is tender, 8 to 10 minutes.

4.Whisk tomato paste with the remaining 1/4 cup broth in a small bowl until smooth, then whisk in flour until smooth. Stir into the hamburger mixture. Stir in the sour cream. Simmer, stirring often, until the sauce is thickened, about 2 minutes. Serve sprinkled with parsley (or chives), if desired.

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Peanut Butter Banana Cupcakes

I baked.
It rarely happens, so I definitely had to document it.

See, I'm not really a fan of baking because I feel like it tries my patience and limits my creativity. You know, with all those exact measurements being necessary and such. And since I don't bake much I feel like I have to follow recipes exactly so I don't mess them up. Summary: My "a little of this, a little of that" attitude towards cooking doesn't translate well to the baking world.

Anyway, I found this recipe, and it sounded wonderful - especially with the marshmallow cream frosting. Because marshmallow cream is awesome.

Unfortunately they weren't the little bundle of deliciousness I had hoped for...they came out more of a dense, muffin consistency as opposed to a light and fluffy cupcake, and the frosting was really a disappointment because the cream cheese totally overwhelmed the marshmallow cream.

But, the cupcakes themselves were yummy; you really got both the peanut butter and the banana flavor which is a fantastic combination. So, I may make them again (and you should try them too), I just may forget the frosting and just call them muffins.

Peanut Butter and Banana Cupcakes with Marshmallow Cream Cheese Frosting

1 2/3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp. baking powder
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 Tbsp. creamy natural peanut butter
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
3/4 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large eggs
3/4 cup finely mashed ripe banana
1/2 cup milk
For the frosting:
4 oz. cream cheese, softened
2 Tbsp. unsalted butter, softened
3/4 cup marshmallow cream

1/3 cup milk chocolate chips, melted


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line 12 muffin cups with wrappers (I ended being able to make about 16).

2. In a medium-sized mixing bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.

3. In a large mixing bowl, using a mixer on medium speed, beat together peanut butter, butter and brown sugar until creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in vanilla, eggs and banana until well combined, about 1 minute. Beat in flour mixture gradually, alternating with milk, until well combined.

4. Divide batter evenly into muffin cups. Bake at 350 degrees for 20-23 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out with moist crumbs attached. Cool for 15 minutes before transferring cupcakes to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. To make the frosting: In a medium-sized mixing bowl, using a mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese until creamy, about 1 minute. Beat in butter until well combined. Beat in marshmallow cream until well combined. Spread frosting on cupcakes. Drizzle with melted chocolate chips.


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