Chicken Cordon Bleu Florentine

I'm baaaack!  It only took a year!  But I'm getting back in the swing of things, slowly but surely.

Like many of my recipes, this one happened by accident.  I was going for a rolled and stuffed chicken breast, but when I opened the package of chicken, I knew there was no way that was happening.  I bought "thin cut" breasts, not knowing that that meant they'd also be the size of a credit card.  There was no way I was rolling them.  So I topped them instead.  Turned out great.

1 lb. thin cut boneless skinless chicken breasts
sliced deli ham (I used 5 large slices cut in half)
1 large bag of chopped spinach, cooked with all water squeezed out
1 1/4 c breadcrumbs
2 egg whites
1/4 c light sour cream
1/4 c Parmesan cheese
garlic powder
onion powder
sliced mozzarella cheese (as many slices as you have pieces of chicken)

Preheat oven to 375.  Lightly spray a baking sheet.

Season the chicken to your taste and place on baking sheet.  Top each piece with a slice of ham.

In a large bowl, mix the spinach with the egg whites, sour cream, Parmesan cheese, and spices to taste (I heavily spice our food).  Mix well so all ingredients stick together well.

Spoon spinach mixture onto the ham; spread to edges of ham.

Bake for 10-12 minutes.  Remove from oven and top each piece with a slice of mozzarella.

 Put back in the oven for another 5-7 minutes, or until chicken is done and cheese is bubbly.

Quick, easy and so so good.

Pumpkin Pie Squares

Ordinarily I don't like pumpkin pie.  I like pumpkin flavors, like muffins, cakes, coffee creamer, etc., but I have never liked pumpkin pie.  Now, as these squares are currently cooling on my stovetop as we speak, I can't tell you if they taste like pumpkin pie or not.  All I can tell you is that they smell amazing (and the lone swipe I took off the beater was pretty darn tasty).

The original recipe from had a different topping...I substituted oatmeal for the pecans because, well, I don't have pecans.  You work with what you have, right?

1 c flour
1/2 c brown sugar
1/2 c oatmeal
1/2 c softened butter

2 c canned pumpkin
12 1/2 oz evaporated milk
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ginger
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp cloves
2 eggs, beaten
3/4 c sugar

2 Tbsp melted butter
1/2 c chopped pecans (I used quick oats)
1/2 c brown sugar

Preheat the oven to 350.  Mix the crust ingredients together and press into a lightly sprayed 9x13 pan.  Bake 15 minutes.

In a large bowl, combine the filling ingredients.  Beat well with a mixer.

Pour the filling onto the hot crust, bake 20 more minutes.

Stir together the topping ingredients, sprinkle on top of the filling.

Bake 20 minutes more.

Let cool, cut into squares.  Bet they're good served topped with whipped cream, eh?

Cappuccino Yogurt Muffins

It's no secret that I love coffee.  Nor is it a secret that I love muffins.  Or it least it shouldn't be, I have enough recipes for them posted!  I came across this recipe in The Maxwell House Coffee Drinks & Desserts Cookbook.  Moist and yummy (plus your house will smell amazing).

1 1/2 c flour
1/2 c sugar
1 envelope instant cappuccino mix, any flavor
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp salt
2 large eggs, lightly beaten
1/2 c cold brewed strong coffee
1/2 c coffee or vanilla flavored yogurt
1/4 c (1/2 stick) butter, melted
1/2 c toasted chopped almonds
1/2 c chopped dried apricots, or other dried fruit

Heat oven to 375.  Line 12 muffin cups with paper liners.

Stir the flour, sugar, cappuccino mix, baking powder, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl.  Stir the eggs, coffee, yogurt, and melted butter in a medium bowl until well blended.  Add the egg mixture to the flour mixture and stir just until moistened.  Stir in the almonds and apricots.  Spoon the batter into the muffin cups, filling each 2/3 full.

Bake 25-30 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the center comes out clean.  Remove the pan to a wire rack and cool for 5 minutes.  Remove from pan and cool completely on rack.

Make 1 dozen muffins

Swirled Pumpkin Cheesecake Square

This one is going to be short, sweet and to the point.  Taken from Zucchini, Pumpkins & Squash by Kathleen Desmond Stang.

Gingersnap crust:
About 20 gingersnaps, broken into large pieces
1/4 c granulated sugar
3 Tbsp butter, melted

Cheesecake filling:
11 oz (8- and 3-oz pkgs) lowfat cream cheese, softened (I like Neufchatel)
1/3 c lowfat sour cream
1/3 c granulated sugar
1 Tbsp flour
1 lg egg
1/2 tsp vanilla
1/2 c pumpkin puree
1 Tbsp packed brown sugar

Preheat oven to 325.  Line bottom and sides of 9x9x2-inch square pan with foil.  Grease the foil on the bottom and 1 inch up the sized of the pan.

To make the crust: Process the gingersnaps in a food processor or blender until very finely chopped.  You should have about 1 c of crumbs.  Combine the gingersnap crumbs, sugar and butter in a small bowl.  Pat into an even layer in the bottom of the pan.  Bake for 7 minutes.  Cool on a rack.

To make the filling:  Beat the cream cheese, sour cream, granulated sugar and flour in the large bowl of an electric mixer.  Add the egg and vanilla and beat until smooth.  Place 3/4 c of the cream cheese mixture in a bowl and stir in the pumpkin puree and brown sugar.

Spoon the plain cream cheese mixture evenly over the crumb layer in the pan.  Dollop the pumpkin on top and swirl with a fork to make a decorative design.  Bake for 25 minutes or until firm in the middle when gently shaken.  Cool in the pan 1 hour.  Chill thoroughly.

To serve, lift cheesecake and foil from the pan.  Cut into squares and remove from the foil to a serving plate.

Makes 16 pieces.

A Taste of Italy, The Aftermath

So our celebration of all Italian food has deliciously come and gone.  It was perfect fall weather for an outdoor party featuring all cozy and warm dishes.  We had a fire going outside and all the fun Italian music a person could dance to (if you don't know any of Louis Prima's songs, you need to!).  I am going to post all of the recipes I made, but here is what we had:

*White Bean Dip with Pita Chips
*Hot Sausage and Peppers
*Mushroom Stew
*Mussels in Wine Sauce
*Chicken Rigatoni with Butternut Squash Sauce
*Tomato Pie (not a traditional pie filled with tomatoes. Google it to see it's basically pizza without cheese)
*Chicken Eggplant Rolls with Ziti
*Anginetti (Iced Lemon Cookies)
*Zuppa Inglese (the Italian version of an English Trifle)
*Limoncello (liquer)
*Grappa (brandy)

Phew!  Just picturing the table makes my stomach growl.  I hope I didn't miss anything!  I hope we do it again, with a whole new table of dishes.  Next time I'll invite ya.

My daughter...Gabriella Mozzarella, whatsamattafayou?

White Bean Dip with Pita Chips

So I'll admit it...I'm a bit of a scatterbrain.  In my last post, I gushed about all the fabulous dishes that were going to be at our feast of the Italian foods, and how I was going to post the pictures of said deliciousness.  Wellllll.....I never took any pictures.  Not of the food, anyway.  Of everything else, yes.  But not the food.  I will, however, post the recipes I made anyway, because they were fantastic.  You'll just have to picture in your mind how great they will look.

I found this bean dip in one of Giada DeLaurentiis's cookbooks.  Full credit goes to her, as I followed the recipe exactly for a change.  And boy was it good!  For such an easy recipe with few ingredients, it's really a winner.  I did double the recipe, however, because singularly it only makes about a cup of dip.

A note...Giada gives the directions for making your own pita chips.  This is a no-brainer, and I'm not going to include it because I went the easier way and bought 2 bags of Stacy's pita chips (which are as close to homemade tasting as you'll find!)

2 (15 oz ea) cans cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
juice from 1 lemon
2 garlic cloves
2/3 c olive oil

In the bowl of a food processor, combine beans, parsley, lemon juice, garlic, salt and pepper.  Pulse on and off until coarsely chopped.  With machine still running, gradually mix the olive oil until creamy.  Season if necessary with more salt and pepper.

It's that easy!  Serve cold or at room temperature with the pita chips.

A Taste of Italy

My family loves to get together.  Doesn't matter the time of year, we don't need a reason, we just enjoy each other's company.  Throw good food into the mix and it just doesn't get much better. 

A couple of years ago we had our own Oktoberfest, complete with goofy hats with feathers and decorations.  All we were missing was leiderhosen.  We all contributed different German dishes and ended up with enough food to feed an army.  Even our beer was German.  While we were stuffing our faces, we all agreed that we'd like to do it again another year, but this time with Italian food.  My father is full-blooded Italian, so we grew up eating a lot of it. 

That day has arrived, and we're gathering once again at my parents' place for our Taste of Italy.  I spent the day preparing for my contributions.  I will post the recipes once I have taken pictures at the party.

To start, I made White Bean Dip with Pita Chips, a recipe I found in a cookbook by Giada DeLaurentiis.  That chick knows her Italian food!  She did state that the pita chips are not authentically Italian (duh), but they go nicely with the dip.  She's right; my little taste-test proved it.

Next I made my meatballs.  Mom asked me to make them, and she's prepared the sauce to go with them.  We both had a lot to make, so we went in 50/50 on this one.  The meatballs in one word are....amazing.  Or as one girl says on this new show I've been watching, "ah-mahzing".

I knew I wanted to make a dessert or two, since no one else was.  I started simple with a cookie called Anginetti.  It's a lemon cookie with a lemon icing.  They look and smell glorious.  I cannot attest to their taste though...the recipe made less than 2 dozen cookies.

Finally, I decided a second dessert was in order.  After a lot of recipe searching, I found Zuppa Inglese.  The literal translation is "English Soup".  That just sounds nasty.  But several other dictionary-type websites kept referring to it as an English trifle.  I assume it's the addition of ladyfingers that makes it Italian.

Speaking of ladyfingers, I apparently live in an area where they just aren't available.  I tried every grocery store in our county AND a few in the next county over.  No luck.  So....I had to make my own.  I was very nervous about it.  It's an involved process involving making a meringue-like base, and I wasn't sure I could do it gently enough.  Psssh.  No problem.  They came out just perfect.  I am assembling the Zuppa Inglese tomorrow (the morning of the party) because I think doing so ahead of time will make everything soggy and soupy.  Hmm, maybe that's why it's called English Soup...

Anyway, once we laugh, drink, and stuff ourselves close to explosion, I will post my recipes and the pictures to go along with them.  Cheers!