Thursday, January 31, 2013

January Re-Make Re-Cap

If you're wondering how my January has been, take into account the fact that I just now remembered that I owe you a monthly re-make re-cap post today. The entire month has flown by, and as we begin February, I'm feeling behind on pretty much everything, even though I'm really not. But it has definitely been a struggle to keep up at times!

On to this month's re-cap. During this busy month, cooking dinner tended to fall by the wayside. But we still managed to enjoy quite a few of our favorites.

I could eat these Greek beef tacos once a week and never, ever get sick of them. These are ready in just about 15 mintues, and they're full of delicious Greek flavor. This is definitely one of my favorite meals.

There are few things as comforting to me as a big bowl of broccoli soup, and this broccoli-cheddar soup is my family's favorite version. The boys both really love this soup, too, especially if I serve it with grilled cheese sandwiches for dipping.

I love this shredded buffalo chicken salad. The flavors all work so well together, and it's so simple to throw together. This time, instead of adding the avocado to the dressing, I just diced it and mixed it into the salad. I also added tomatoes to the salad this time, which worked really well.

I made this mozzarella-baked gnocchi using whole wheat gnocchi I found at Aldi. This meal is always a winner in our house; it's so simple and flavorful. The stringy mozzarella cheese is just so divine, and makes this really special.

I don't normally do this, but this time I am making an exception: I've updated the photo on the original post for this spinach and chicken tortilla bake. This recipe is so good that it really needs a presentable photo. When I made it this time around, I used a 9-inch pie plate rather than a square baking dish, and I found that worked much better. I also cut the spinach into ribbons so it absorbed into the sauce more evenly.

I made our favorite spinach dip for Will's birthday party earlier this month and it was, as always, a huge hit. This stuff is insanely good and so, so simple. I highly recommend making it for the Super Bowl this weekend! This time, I pre-portioned spoonfuls of it into tortilla cups (like I recently did for these spinach-artichoke bites), and they were so easy to eat.

Roasted potatoes are definitely one of my go-to side dishes. They always turn out perfectly crispy and delicious. I could probably eat an entire pound of them on my own. Don't tell anyone I said that.

This cheesy sausage penne is a near-monthly occurrence in my house, and whenever I make it, Joe and I have to fight with the boys for the leftovers. It's that good.

It had been way too long since I last made these individual shrimp pot pies, and I had practically forgotten how delicious they really are. I served them with mashed potatoes this time for soaking up all of the leftover broth, and that was a very, very wise decision.

Last week was the sixth anniversary of my mom's passing, so I made her creamed chicken over biscuits for dinner. The boys love this meal, and it means so much to me for them to be able to share my memories of her with them through her food. 

I forgot how much I love these ranch chicken tacos since the last time I made them. They just really hit the spot for me this time around. In addition to the toppings in the picture, we also added diced tomato. These are just so flavorful and so, so good.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Macaroni and Cheese with Crunchy Bacon Topping

I’ve been making more of an effort to cook out of my cookbooks lately. I have a tendency to get overwhelmed by my Pinterest boards and my blog reader and the various cooking newsletters I get in my e-mail box; there are so many delicious recipes all over the place, I just have no idea where to begin. So I’ve been turning to my collection of cookbooks more and more. Not only do I have a decidedly enormous number of them that I really should use, but it’s also therapeutic for me to sit and flip through a cookbook, turning down the corners of the pages that have recipes I want to try.

For my birthday one year, my mother-in-law got me one of Food & Wine’s editions of the Best of the Best Cookbook Recipes, and one recent weekend afternoon I pulled that one off the shelf. Contained within it, unbeknownst to me at the time, was my new favorite macaroni and cheese recipe.

It’s a recipe from Pat and Gina Neely, and it’s amazing. The cheese sauce is composed of sharp white cheddar and Romano, and the pasta is topped with a crunchy, salty layer of potato chips and bacon. Yes, potato chips! And bacon. Brilliant, right? The sauce gets depth and spice from Worcestershire and hot sauce, and the crunchy topping is the perfect counterpoint to the creaminess. I used a fun shape of pasta called trottore (which my boys said reminded them of their toy spiral race track), but any hollow pasta would work for this. Rest assured, this recipe will become a staple in my home.

Macaroni and Cheese with Crunchy Bacon Topping
recipe originally from Down Home with the Neelys, found in Food & Wine’s Best of the Best Cookbook Recipes, Vol. 13

For the macaroni and cheese:

6 tablespoons butter, plus more for greasing
1 pound hollow pasta (cavatappi, elbows, trottore)
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk, warmed
1 cup chicken stock, warmed
1 teaspoon dry mustard powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Pinch freshly grated nutmeg
Dash hot sauce
Dash Worcestershire sauce
4 cups sharp white cheddar cheese, grated, divided
1 3/4 cups grated Pecorino Romano cheese, divided

For the topping:

1 1/2 cups crushed potato chips
5 slices crisp-cooked bacon, crumbled
3 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Butter a 3-quart casserole dish. Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook the pasta to al dente.

2. Meanwhile, melt the butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring, for 1 minute. Whisk in the warmed milk and chicken stock, and bring to a simmer, whisking constantly.

3. Stir the dry mustard, salt, black pepper, cayenne, nutmeg, hot sauce, and Worcesterhire sauce into the thickened mixture. Stir in 3 cups of the cheddar and 1 1/4 cups of the Pecorino Romano until the cheeses melt.

4. Add the cooked pasta to the cheese sauce and stir gently to combine. Pour the mixture into the prepared casserole dish.

5. To make the topping, combine the potato chips, remaining 1/2 cup of Pecorino Romano, crumbled bacon, parsley, and the remaining 1 cup of cheddar cheese in a large bowl. Sprinkle the crumb mixture on top of the macaroni and cheese and back for 35 minutes. For an even crunchier topping, finish under the broiler for 3 minutes until golden brown and crisp. Remove from the oven and cool 5 minutes before serving.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Stuffing Mix Meatloaf

I grew up eating Stove Top Stuffing. I grew up eating meatloaf. So when I began seeing recipes float around for meatloaf made with stuffing mix, it seemed like a no-brainer that it would be right up my alley. I just couldn't believe I hadn't thought of it before, and once I tried it, I was mad at myself for not thinking of it before. 

It seems like stuffing mix was just made for meatloaf, since it provides moistness that's definitely needed in meatloaf. The savory flavor works so well with the beef, and the addition of the stuffing gives the meatloaf a wonderful texture. There are tons of versions of this meatloaf all over the internet and Pinterest, so I just took a very basic one and modified it to our tastes. It was a hit with my entire family, and it made the best leftover meatloaf sandwiches.

Stuffing Mix Meatloaf
heavily adapted from

1 1/2 pounds ground beef
1 box stuffing mix, any variety
1/2 cup water
2 eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 teaspoon seasoned salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 shallot, grated
1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce, divided

1/2 cup ketchup
3 tablespoons brown sugar

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a large bowl, combine beef, stuffing mix, water, eggs, seasoned salt, pepper, grated shallot, and 1 tablespoon of Worcestershire sauce. Pat into a loaf shape and place in a meatloaf pan or glass baking dish.

3. Bake for 30 minutes. Combine ketchup, brown sugar, and remaining teaspoon of Worcestershire and spread evenly over the meatloaf. Continue baking for 30 more minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Pecan Pie Bites

The Super Bowl is coming up in a little over a week, and, while I have never been one to turn up my nose at a delicious, hot, melty, savory dip (and will be making and devouring a few of those for the occasion, as a matter of fact), dessert is something that can never be ignored -- even when it comes to the Super Bowl.

Wow, that was a long sentence.

Anyway. I made these for Thanksgiving, but I think pecan pie is appropriate for pretty much every occasion, Super Bowl and random Tuesdays included. These little pecan pies using phyllo shells are perfect, because they can be assembled ahead of time, they're corn syrup-free, and they're as delicious as they are adorable. We topped ours with dollops of whipped cream, which I believe is a must when we're talking about pecan pie in any way, shape, or form. Yum.

Pecan Pie Bites

1 tablespoon butter, melted
1 large egg
4 teaspoons brown sugar
2 tablespoons honey
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
1/2 cup pecans, chopped
15 miniature phyllo shells (1 package, from the frozen section)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except pecans. Mix well. Stir in chopped pecans.

3. Arrange mini shells on a baking sheet. Fill mini shells with one heaping teaspoon of pecan mixture. If any of the mixture remains, distribute evenly between all the shells.

4. Bake for 10 to 15 minutes. Let cool before serving.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Southwestern Chicken Salad Melts

One of my resolutions this year was to take lunch to work as often as possible. This is something that's been an ongoing struggle for me, even though it shouldn't be. I already pack two lunches every evening for the boys -- what's one more? It's just always seemed simpler to buy something somewhere, and of course it is; but it's not healthier or more cost effective. So far this year I've done really well with this goal, largely thanks to meals like this one.

Taking a plain old lunchmeat sandwich gets boring after awhile, so it's nice to have a chicken salad like this in my back pocket. It can be served warm for dinner one night in melt form, and eaten cold in a wrap for lunch the next day. It's equally delicious both ways. I love chicken salad in pretty much any form, but this recipe really takes chicken salad to the next level with its Southwestern spin. It's insanely creamy, slightly spicy, and incredibly flavorful. It's a new go-to for dinners and lunches alike!

Southwestern Chicken Salad Melts
adapted from How Sweet It Is

1 1/2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breast halves, cooked and shredded
Olive oil
Half of a red onion, chopped
Half of a green bell pepper, chopped
Salt and pepper to taste
1 roasted red pepper, chopped
1/3 cup black beans
1/3 cup frozen corn, thawed
3/4 cup mayonnaise
1/2 cup sour cream
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro
1 cup freshly-shredded sharp cheddar cheese
Crisply-cooked bacon strips
Toasted bread

1. Heat the olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add onion and bell peppers, season with salt and pepper, and cook until onion is softened. Remove from heat and cool.

2. Mix together roasted red pepper, black beans, corn, mayonnaise and sour cream. Add cooled onion and peppers and cumin, chili powder, and cilantro. Stir in the chicken. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

3. Add some of the chicken salad to a slice of toasted bread. Sprinkle with cheese and cook under the broiler until the cheese is melted. Top with bacon strips and another slice of toasted bread.

Monday, January 21, 2013

Creamy Bacon and Mushroom Marsala Pasta

When the weather gets really frigid, most people crave soup. And while I love soup and it appears on our menu plans at least once a week during the winter months, what I really crave when it's cold outside are pasta dishes. Baked pasta, pasta mixed with creamy sauce, pasta pasta pasta. To be completely honest, I guess this really isn't much different than any other season of the year. I am just a pasta girl.

I subscribe to e-mail newsletters from a bunch of different recipe sites, and recently I got one that was all about dishes including bacon. PSA to every recipe site ever: If you want me to make your recipes, send me an all-bacon newsletter. I adapted a recipe for bacon pasta that very week, much to my husband's delight.

Let me paint this picture for you: Bacon is crisped in a skillet, then its drippings are used to saute mushrooms, shallots, and garlic, which are deglazed with Marsala wine. Next comes a silky shower of cream and a decadent sprinkle of parmesan cheese. That whole business is tossed with penne pasta. This pasta has it all; it's smoky, salty, earthy, creamy, cheesy, and luxurious. I think you'll love it as much as my family did.

Creamy Bacon and Mushroom Marsala Pasta
adapted from

1 pound penne pasta
1 pound bacon, diced
1 tablespoon butter
8 ounces cremini mushrooms, sliced
1 shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
Salt and pepper to taste
1/2 cup Marsala wine
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
1 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1. Cook pasta in boiling salted water according to package directions; drain.

2. Meanwhile, crisp bacon in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. Remove to paper towels to drain, and reserve 2 tablespoons of drippings in the skillet.

3. Add the butter to the bacon drippings and once it's melted, add the mushrooms and shallots to the pan. Saute until shallots are softened and mushrooms are browned, then add the garlic. Cook and stir for 30 seconds, then add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Add the Marsala to the skillet and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping the bottom to pick up any browned bits. After the Marsala has reduced, stir in the cream. Reduce the heat and simmer until the cream is thickened, then stir in the parmesan cheese. After the cheese has melted, stir in half of the reserved bacon. Taste for seasoning and adjust as needed.

5. Toss the sauce with the reserved pasta and sprinkle each serving with the remaining bacon and additional parmesan cheese.

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Hashbrown Tacos

I feel a little silly sharing this recipe with you, since it's really not much of a recipe at all -- but then again, these hashbrown tacos were a huge hit with my family, and they were ready in minutes, so really I just have to share them.

I made these on an evening when I was short on groceries and short on time. I'm not usually very good with just coming up with something for dinner on the fly, based solely on what I have on hand, which is why I meal plan. On this particular evening, however, inspiration struck when I perused the contents of my cupboards, fridge, and freezer. When I served these tacos to my  family, they were initially dubious -- but then they took a bite and realized how delicious they were.

For this version, I mixed the hashbrowns with onions, a can of diced tomatoes with green chilies, and Mexican spices, and topped them with shredded cheese. You could add any type of meat and any veggies you like, and I think the results would be just as delicious. And of course you could always add some eggs! Next time I'm going to try adding black beans, bell peppers, corn and bacon. Yum.

The crispy hashbrowns were such a pleasant surprise inside the soft tortillas, and a dollop of sour cream was the perfect finishing touch. I haven't tried it yet, but I think these would freeze really well rolled up as burritos.

Hashbrown Tacos

Vegetable oil
3 cups frozen shredded hashbrowns
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 10-ounce can diced tomatoes with green chilies, drained
Salt and pepper
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
Shredded cheddar cheese
Flour tortillas
Sour cream for serving

1. Heat the vegetable oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add potatoes in an even layer. Top them with the onions, tomatoes, salt and pepper, and spices. Leave them alone until you can see that the edges are getting crispy.

2. Flip the potatoes after the edges are crisp and let them continue cooking over medium heat until the other side is browned. Sprinkle cheddar cheese evenly over the top and let it melt.

3. Divide the hashbrown mixture evenly among the flour tortillas. Top each taco with sour cream and serve.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Chicken with Thyme, Lemon and White Wine

We eat a lot of chicken in my house. But unless it's summer and we're using the grill, it's very rare for us to just eat a chicken breast for dinner. Usually I serve chicken in things: pastas, salads, various casseroles. Sometimes, though, for simplicity's sake, it's nice to just be able to serve a piece of chicken, as-is. On the night I made this, I didn't have a particular recipe in mind; I just kind of winged it based on what I had on hand. The results were truly outstanding!

This recipe fancies up a plain old chicken breast with the additions of thyme, lemon and white wine. The chicken cooks in butter that has been infused with the thyme, and then gets a bath in a bright, fragrant sauce made with chicken stock, white wine, and splash of lemon juice. The chicken stays so moist, and every bite is loaded with flavor.

If you have some chicken breasts on hand and have no idea what to do with them, here's a simple recipe with just a few ingredients to make them taste fancy and delicious.

Chicken with Thyme, Lemon and White Wine

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves
Salt and pepper to taste
3 tablespoons butter
4 sprigs fresh thyme
1/2 cup white wine
1 cup chicken stock
Juice of 1 lemon

1. Heat the butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Strip the leaves from the thyme sprigs. Add the thyme leaves to the melted butter and let them cook for a few minutes until fragrant.

2. Season the chicken with salt and pepper and add to the skillet. Cook, turning once, until browned and cooked through. Remove to a plate, cover with foil, and keep warm.

3. To the same skillet you used for the chicken, add the white wine. Let it reduce, scraping the bottom of the skillet with a wooden spoon to pick up any browned bits. After the wine is reduced, add the chicken stock and bring it to a bubble. Reduce the heat and return the chicken to the pan. Let it cook for a few more minutes in the sauce.

4. Just before serving, squirt the lemon juice over the skillet.

Friday, January 11, 2013

Chocolate Chip Cookie Whoopie Pies with Cookie Dough Buttercream Filling

I'm not even going to lie: When I look at these whoopie pies, the first thing that pops into my head is the beginning chords of "Let's Get It On" by Marvin Gaye. Because, I mean, for real. Look at those beauties. They are every bit as delicious as they look, let me assure you.

There are countless recipes out there for chocolate chip cookie whoopie pies, but I haven't seen very many that use chocolate chip cookies as the pies themselves, and use chocolate chip cookie dough buttercream for the filling. Typically one or the other is chocolate. A chocolate version would of course be delicious, but I was seeking to make the ulitmate chocolate chip cookie whoopie pie. I think this recipe succeeds on all levels. The whoopie pies themselves have crisp edges, but they're soft in the middle, and the buttercream is smooth and creamy and tastes just like chocolate chip cookie dough.

These cookies are rich and satisfying, and, with a glass of milk on the side, I just can't possibly think of anything better.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Whoopie Pies with Cookie Dough Buttercream Filling

For the cookies:

1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, softened
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips

For the filling:

1 1/2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
1/4 + 1/8 cup packed brown sugar
2 cups powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
3 to 4 tablespoons heavy cream
1 1/4 tsp vanilla

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together flour, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.

2. With an electric mixer, beat together butter and brown sugar on medium-high speed for 1 minute. Add egg and beat until smooth. On low, beat in vanilla and flour mixture just until blended. Stir in mini chips.

3. Drop by tablespoons onto parchment-paper lined baking sheets. Bake for 9 to 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Cool on cookie sheets 1 minute. Remove to wire racks to cool completely.

4. To make the frosting, cream together butter and brown sugar. Add powdered sugar in increments until smooth. Add a pinch of salt, then add the vanilla and as much heavy cream as needed to reach desired consistency.

5. After the cookies have cooled, invert half of the cookies and use a piping bag to pipe on filling. Top each half with another cookie of similar size and shape. This recipe makes 12 whoopie pies.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Skillet Meatballs and Noodles in Creamy Herb Sauce

Sometimes I pin/star/bookmark a recipe based solely on a single ingredient listed. One of the ingredients that's sure to make me do this is Boursin cheese. I absolutely love it: the creaminess, the funk of the garlic, the freshness of the herbs. In this dish, Boursin is stirred into the meatball mixture and into the sauce. I love this idea -- it's a great way to impart the flavor into every aspect of the dish. 

This dish is so creamy, flavorful and comforting without being too heavy. It's easy too -- everything cooks in one pot. I love the simplicity of meals like this given how busy our evenings are, and I will definitely be making this one again. 

Skillet Meatballs and Noodles in Creamy Herb Sauce
slightly adapted from A Taste of Home Cooking

1 pound ground round or sirloin
1 package spreadable garlic and herb Boursin cheese
Salt and pepper
Vegetable oil
1 onion, chopped fine
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
3 1/2 cups low sodium chicken broth
8 ounces egg noodles
1/4 cup white wine

1. Combine beef, 5 tablespoons Boursin cheese, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon pepper in a medium bowl and knead gently until combined. Form mixture into 1 inch meatballs. Heat oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat until just smoking. Cook meatballs until well browned all over, about 5 minutes. Transfer meatballs to plate and pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat from pan.

2. Cook onion in reserved fat until browned, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in flour and cook until golden, about 1 minute. Add broth, noodles, and wine and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to medium low, and cook, stirring often, until pasta begins to soften, about 5 minutes. Add meatballs and simmer, covered, until meatballs are cooked through and noodles are al dente, about 4 minutes. Turn off the heat and stir in remaining Boursin cheese. Season with salt and pepper.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Bruschetta Chicken

This is probably more of a summertime dish, so naturally, I can't think of a better time to share it with you than the middle of winter. It's January, it's freezing cold (at least where I am), and I am definitely looking for some sunshine and bright flavor in my life these days. Boy, does this chicken ever fit the bill!

I simply cannot overstate how much we enjoyed this dish and how delicious it is. The chicken is baked, so it's somewhat healthy, and the crouton crust is crispy and flavorful. The bruschetta mixture provides a welcome brightness and texture. The night after I served this, Joe wasn't home for dinner, so I used the leftovers and some provolone cheese to make a panini for myself.

I love it when I can reinvent leftovers into something new and equally delicious. The leftovers would also be delicious chopped up, mixed with pasta, drizzled with balsamic vinegar, and served either warm or cold.

This is of course assuming that you have leftovers. With a meal as delicious as this one, that isn't likely.

Bruschetta Chicken
slightly adapted from Flickr user lindsey meredith

1/2 cup flour
2 eggs, beaten
1 1/3 pounds chicken breast tenders
1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese
1/2 cup garlic croutons, roughly crushed
1 tablespoon butter, melted
2 large tomatoes, seeded and chopped
3 tablespoons fresh basil, chiffoned
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 tablespoon olive oil
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Grease a 9 x 13 baking dish.

2. Place flour and beaten eggs in separate shallow bowls. Season chicken with salt and pepper. Dip chicken into flour, then into eggs. Place into baking dish.

3. Combine parmesan cheese, crushed croutons, and melted butter and sprinkle over the chicken. Loosely cover with foil and bake for minutes, or until top is browned and chicken is cooked through.

4. Stir together tomatoes, basil, garlic, and salt and pepper. Spoon mixture over chicken, and return to oven for 5 to 7 minutes or until tomato mixture is heated through.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Italian Sub Crescent Bake

This dish was all the rage on Pinterest a few months ago, and whenever I saw it my mouth practically watered. That's almost always a sign that I'm going to be trying a recipe. Although the original looked delicious as-is, I made a few changes to my version: adding banana pepper rings, roasting my own peppers, using provolone cheese, and whisking some prepared Italian dressing and oregano into the eggs.

When I initially read the recipe, the addition of the eggs sounded really strange to me, and I almost skipped that step. I'm so glad I didn't. The eggs don't turn this into a brunch dish in the least; they just serve to make the cheese gooey and bubbly and amazingly delicious. This really is reminiscent of eating a warm Italian sub, and my entire family really enjoyed it. That's really saying something when it comes to the boys, because they're not too crazy about lunch meat. As a bonus, this heated up really well the next day for leftovers -- not that there were many. Serve it with a salad and you've got a delicious dinner!

Italian Sub Crescent Bake
adapted from Mr. Food

1 8-ounce package refrigerated crescent rolls
8 slices deli turkey
8 slices deli ham
12 slices deli hard salami
8 slices provolone cheese
1 jar roasted red and yellow peppers, drained (or about 3 peppers, if you roast your own)
1/2 cup jarred banana pepper rings
4 eggs
2 tablespoons Italian dressing
1/4 teaspoon oregano

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Unroll crescent roll dough without separating triangles. Separate dough into 2 squares along center cut line.

2. Place 1 square of dough into an 8-inch square baking dish; using your fingertips, press dough to fit bottom of dish. Whisk together eggs, Italian dressing, and oregano.

3. Layer with half the turkey, ham, salami, provolone cheese, roasted peppers and banana peppers. Pour half of beaten egg mixture over the peppers and repeat with remaining meats, cheese, and peppers.

4. Place remaining square of dough over peppers. Pour remaining beaten egg mixture over dough and cover lightly with foil.

5. Bake 20 minutes, remove foil, and bake an additional 20 to 22 minutes, or until golden and heated through. Let cool 15 to 20 minutes then cut and serve.

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken with Gouda Spinach Penne

Happy 2013, everyone! I hope you all had a blast ringing in the New Year and that you're all as ready as I am to make this year awesome. I have big plans for 2013, and I'm determined to make it great: make great food, have a great attitude, and just have a great time with my family and friends.

Speaking of great food, I'm kicking off 2013 with a really delicious recipe. Sure, it contains both bacon and heavy cream, so maybe it's not the most New-Year's-diet-friendly dish, but it sure is yummy. The flavors of bacon, gouda cheese, and spinach always work so beautifully together, and this meal is no exception. The pasta is so creamy and rich, and topping it with a chicken breast that's wrapped in salty, smoky bacon is the perfect finishing touch. Mushrooms would also be a wonderful addition!

Bacon-Wrapped Chicken with Gouda Spinach Penne

4 boneless skinless chicken breast halves, uniform thickness
4 strips bacon
1 pound penne pasta
4 cups baby spinach leaves, trimmed
2 tablespoons butter
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 cups heavy cream
2 cups gouda or smoked gouda cheese, shredded
Salt and pepper to taste

1. Wrap each chicken breast with one slice of bacon. Heat a small amount of olive oil in a large skillet. Add chicken breasts, with the bacon's seam-side down, and cook until the bacon is crispy and the chicken is cooked through, turning once. Set aside and cover with foil.

2. Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until al dente. For the last four minutes of the pasta's cooking time, add the spinach to the boiling water, 1 cup at a time so as not to crowd the pot, and stir to wilt it completely. Drain pasta and spinach.

3. While the pasta and spinach are cooking, melt the butter in a saucepan. Add garlic; cook and stir for 30 seconds. Add the heavy cream; bring it to a boil and let it boil for 30 seconds until slightly thickened, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat and add the gouda cheese a bit at a time, stirring to melt the cheese before adding more. Taste for seasoning and add salt and pepper to taste.

4. Add the sauce to the reserved pasta and spinach and stir to combine. Top each serving with a piece of the bacon-wrapped chicken.