Chicken Alfredo Lasagna

9 Mar

About a year ago I wanted to make lasagna but I did not want the traditional red sauce, red meat variety, afterall I rarely eat red meat and thought there has to be a recipe for something else other than a vegetarian lasagna.  My family likes meat so I have to be inventive with the chicken dishes and every once in a while I throw some red meat their way.  Chicken, alfredo sauce,  red peppers and various cheeses,thrown together into a casserole with a few other ingredients what could be better?!  But these ingredients were in 3 different recipes.  So I took the ingredients I liked and made it my own.  I used a roasted red pepper rather than a raw red pepper and I recommend finely dicing the onions unless you like bigger chunks of onion.  I also like a lot of alfredo sauce.  You can use 1 jar but I preferred using 2 this did make 5 big layers.

Chicken Alfredo Lasagna

  • 15 lasagna noodles, cooked
  • 2-16 oz jar white alfredo pasta sauce
  • 3 cups coarsely chopped cooked chicken
  • 1-14 oz artichoke hearts in water, drained and chopped
  • 1 roasted red bell pepper, chopped
  • ½ yellow onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 small package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
  • 1 pound mozzarella cheese, sliced
  • 1-8 oz package shredded Italian cheese blend
  • 1-8 oz container ricotta cheese
  • ½ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 small package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained

 Preheat oven to 375.  In a large bowl combine the chicken, artichokes, bell pepper, onion, garlic, spinach and ½ package of the Italian cheese blend.  Mix well.  Divide mixture into fourths.

Spread a thin layer of the alfredo sauce over the bottom of a 9×13” baking dish.  Top with a layer of noodles.  Add a layer of chicken mixture, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses.  Drizzle sauce over the top and repeat layers.

Final layer consists of noodles, remaining sauce, remaining Italian cheese blend, parmesan cheese.

Cover with foil and bake 45 minutes.  Uncover and bake 15 minutes more.  Let stand for 15 minutes and serve.

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Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

4 Mar

Mariya was in the mood for cupcakes as she wanted something sweet and Barry loves snickerdoodle cookies.  She found this recipe in Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes and we had everything on hand so on Superbowl Sunday she made these.  These are a dense cupcake but very good especially with a cup of coffee.  I used my traditional buttercream but adding the marshmallow fluff.  It turned out to be a good combination.

Adapted from Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes

Makes 24 cupcakes

Snickerdoodle Cupcakes

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon ground cinnamon, plus 1/2 teaspoon for dusting
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1 1/2 cups sugar, plus 2 tablespoons for dusting
  • 4 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • Marshmallow Fluff Frosting

Preheat oven to 350F.  Line standard muffin tins with paper liners.  In a separate bowl combine both flours, baking powder, salt and 1 tablespoon cinnamon.

With an electric mixer on medium-high speed, cream the butter and sugar until pale and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time, beating until each is incorporated, scraping down the sides of the bowl if necessary.  Beat in vanilla reducing speed to low.  Add the flour in 3 batches, alternating with 2 additions of milk, and beating until combined after each.

Fill each lined cup 3/4 full.  Bake, until a cake tester inserted in the center comes out clean, about 20 minutes.  Transfer tins to wire racks to cool completely before removing cupcakes.

To finish the cupcakes, combine remaining 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon and 2 tablespoons sugar.  Using a pastry bag fitted with Wilton #1A tip, hold bag over cupcake with tip just above the top and squeeze to creat a dome of frosting, releasing pressure and pulling up to form a peak.  Sprinkle the tops with the cinnamon sugar.

Marshmallow Fluff Frosting

  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup marshmallow fluff
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 cups confectioners sugar
  • milk

Cream butter and marshmallow fluff until combined.  Add vanilla extract and slowly add confectioners sugar.  Add enough milk until it is of frosting consistency.

Pasta Salad

7 Feb

When I worked for a large primary care physician group in east TN we had a co-worker who every once in a while would bring in a dish to share with us.  One time she brought in a taco soup with all the trimmings and then another time she brought in a pasta salad.  I adore pasta but pasta salads didn’t do much for me until this one.  I asked for her recipe and she told me it was nothing but cooked pasta, chopped tomatoes, green peppers, onions and cucumbers with italian dressing.  Simple but delicious, perfect for bbqs as a side or even a main dish.  Mariya loves this pasta salad.  Whenever I make this and friends are coming over I have to make sure to set aside extra for her.  This is like her cream cheese pound cake, I always have to have extra just for her.  There is never a problem with throwing away uneaten portions.  Never a problem if I make too much.  I use Good Seasons italian seasoning packet. I usually use a packet and a half because I like the extra flavor. Once in a pinch I used a regular bottled dressing, it’s not the same.  Do not substitute the Good Seasons!  I buy the box with 4 packets because I do this dish often especially in the summer. Since this is Mariya’s favorite dish and while it’s not french but it will be made and served for her wedding, provided she doesn’t eat it all!

Pasta Salad

  • 2 large tomatoes
  • 1 green pepper
  • 1 sweet onion
  • 1 cucumber
  • 1 to 1/1/2 packets of Good Seasons Italian Salad dressing made as per directions for 1 packet
  • 1 lb box of angel hair pasta, cooked and cooled

Chop all vegetables and place into a large serving bowl. 

Add the italian dressing to bowl.

Mix in the cooked pasta.  Best served after an hour so that the dressing can meld into the pasta and veggies.

Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes

2 Feb

Mariya has been on a roll lately in her quest for the remaining 2 cupcake flavors.  She wanted to do a raspberry lemonade cupcake.  Going thru our Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes she did not find exactly what she wanted but came across a recipe that I helped her adapt it to what she did want.  These were the dessert for her friends game night.  A couple of the gals thought the frosting was too sweet.  Barry and I thought the cupcake was perfect so I asked my son who is not a sweet lover what he thought of them.  He told me they were excellent and that he had 4 of them himself!  We couldn’t figure out what happened to all the cupcakes, now we know.  It was rather funny because when he came home there was one cupcake left but Mariya hid it earlier just in case and the 1st thing TJ did was go to the refrigerator to get a cupcake.  He was disappointed that there were no more left.  These are very good, she did a great job and it looks like the limoncello cupcakes are being replace with this one.

Inspired by Martha Stewart’s Cupcakes Strawberry Cupcakes

Makes 24 cupcakes

Raspberry Lemonade Cupcakes

  • 2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 cup cake flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 large whole eggs
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 3/4 cup frozen lemonade, thawed
  • 2 cups finely chopped raspberries, plus 24 more for garnish
  • Lemonade Buttercream Frosting 

Preheat oven to 350F and line standard muffin pan with paper liners.   In a separate bowl combine flours, baking powder and salt.  With an electric mixer cream butter, sugar and vanilla on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy.  Add eggs, one at a time and beat until incorporated.  Reduce speed to low.  Add the flour mixture in two batches alternating with the milk and lemonade and beating until well combined.

Fold in the chopped raspberries by hand.

Fill each lined cup 3/4 full.  Bake until golden and cake tester inserted in the centers comes out clean 25-30 minutes.  Transfer pan to wire racks to cool 15 minutes; turn out cupcakes onto rack to cool completely.

Using Wilton’s 2D tip pipe the buttercream onto each cupcake swirling tip and releasing as you pull to form a peak.  Just before serving place a whole raspberry on top.

Lemonade Buttercream Frosting

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 3 cups powdered sugar
  • remaining frozen lemonade from cupcake recipe, thawed

With an electric mixer beat the butter on medium-high until pale and fluffy.  Add the extract and powdered sugar and beat on low speed.  Add the lemonade a teaspoon at a time until you have spreading consistency.  Tint with a few drops of yellow food coloring if desired.

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

31 Jan

I needed a quick easy dinner and in talking to a co-worker she told me about this recipe by Campbells using condensed soup.  I looked it up on the internet and I had all the ingredients on hand so I decided to make this for a weekday dinner.  I discovered that I did not have any picante sauce however I had a regular size can of El Paso green enchilada sauce.  It sounded like a useable substitute to me so I went with it.  This dinner was a hit especially with the guys.  They couldn’t get enough of it.  I don’t know if the green sauce is better than the picante but since I don’t care for the processed picante I will stick with the green sauce.  Another issue I had was the bottom of the enchiladas tended to be rather hard and somewhat crunchy so the next time I spread a very thin layer of the green sauce and that rectified that issue.  Then my last change was I cook the chicken in the crock pot so it is tender and juicier.  I also like to top the dish with more shredded cheese but I ran out this time.   Better make sure to add that this dish was made by Mariya with instruction by me as to the changes I made.  She brought this over to a friends house for game night.  She’s getting to be quite the little cook!

Adapted from Campbell’s Kitchen

Creamy Chicken Enchiladas

  • 1 10.75 ounce can condensed cream of chicken soup
  • 10 ounce sour cream
  • 1 can green enchilada sauce or 1 cup picante sauce
  • 2 teaspoons ancho chili powder
  • 2 cups chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • 20 fajita size flour tortillas
  • optional toppings to include chopped tomato, green onion sliced, picante sauce, guacamole and sour cream

Mix soup, sour cream, picante sauce or enchilada sauce  (save a few spoonfuls for the baking pan), chili powder.

Mix 1 cup of the picante sauce mixture, chicken and cheese.

Spread a few large teaspoons of the chicken mixture down the center of each tortilla.  Roll up and place seam-side down in a 13×9 baking pan.

Pour remaining picante sauce mixture over enchiladas.  Cover.

Bake at 350F for 40 minutes or until hot.  Top with garnishes of your choice.

Tangerine Sorbet

23 Jan

Barry brought home a large box of tangerines from school.  He spent days eating  tangerines when I came up with an idea to google for a sorbet recipe.  That evening I squeezed about 20 tangerines to get the juice for the sorbet.  I made the sorbet and we kind of forgot about it.  Christmas was over and Larry was going back on the road.  So on a Tuesday night Mariya and I were watching Cupcake Wars when I thought about the sorbet and asked if she wanted some.  We each had a scoop and then she went back for seconds.  Well the news spread like wild fire, this sorbet was yummy!  It was gone within a couple days.  Larry was coming home for new years and commented that he can’t wait to try the sorbet I had made but we forgotten to eat while he was home.  I had to break the news to him that it was now gone however I had more tangerines and would make some before he got home.  I squeezed about 4 cups of juice to use the remaining tangerines and I drank the extra cup.  Well you know what happens when you drink that much citrus juice before bed?  You get heartburn because the acids in the stomach are having quite the time.  Anyways the sorbet enjoyed by all and now it’s gone until the next time someone comes home with a basket full.

Tangerine Sorbet

  • 3 cups tangerine juice, strained
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons orange flower water
  • 1 tablespoon mandarin vodka

In a bowl combine all ingredients except the vodka.  Chill in the refrigerator. 

Add vodka to mixture.  Churn in ice cream maker as per manufacturers directions.  Freeze.

Green Tea Madeleine Cookies

21 Jan

Ever since our trip to Paris in 2009 I/we are obsessed with all things french.  So when Mariya became engaged it was only fitting to do a parisian themed wedding.  Since I am making everything for the dessert buffet I decided to include the madeleine cookie.  I never had this cookie and even when we were in Paris I did not try the madeleine.  I just like the shape of it because it’s a seashell shape and I love the ocean.  I bought a couple of the madeleine pans and since Larry was home I made a batch. 

This recipe comes from David Lebovitz book The Sweet Life in Paris.  This book combines his adventures living in Paris with fantastic recipes.  Having been there I can relate to his stories and I just have to laugh how true it is.  I envy him because his is a life I would love to live.  His recipe is for lemon glazed but he gave a few variations and I tried the green tea because I had the matcha powder and it called for orange zest and since I did not have lemons but Larry did have oranges it was the way to go.  The green tea variation called for a few swipes of zest and I added the zest of the whole orange.  It did overpower the green tea but that was my purpose.  This was the 2nd recipe I tried for the madeleines.  I prefer this recipe because I got the gorgeous hump that I like vs another recipe where there wasn’t much of a hump. 

I made these cookies one evening and Larry eat so many of them.  He had gone to the store to buy some vanilla Oreos and when he came home I already had them made.  He tried one and put the Oreos away.  He never had a madeleine before and said they were excellent.  I sent the remaining cookies with him to enjoy later.  They are light cookies and excellent with tea or coffee.  They are best served the day they are made but Larry said they were still great several days later.  Store them in an airtight container up to 3 days after baking or freeze plain cookies up to one month.  I plan on making more varieties in the future but will use this recipe as the basic because of the good results. 

Adapted from David Lebovitz The Sweet Life in Paris

Makes 24 regular size cookies

Green Tea Madeleines

  •  9 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled to room temperature
  • 3 large eggs, at room temperature
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • dash of salt
  • 1 1/4 cups flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder (preferably aluminum free)
  • 2 teaspoons green tea powder (matcha)
  • zest of 1 small orange

In the bowl of an electric mixer, whip the eggs, sugar and salt for 5 minutes until frothy and thickened.

Add the flour, baking powder and matcha and using a spatula to fold in the flour as it is being added gradually into the batter.

Add the orange zest to the cooled butter and slowly dribble the butter in the batter  while simultaneously folding it in with the spatula until all the butter is incorporated.  Cover the bowl and refrigerate for at least 1 hour up to but no longer than 12 hours.

Butter the madeleine molds lightly.  If using nonstick molds that is all you need to do otherwise dust with flour and tap off any excess. 

Preheat oven to 425F.  Using a teaspoon, plop a generous amount of batter into the center of the mold.  It does not have to fill the mold.  Leave the dough in a mound and do not spread as the heat from baking will spread it out.

Bake for 8-10 minutes or until cakes feel springy and just set.  Remove from the oven and tilt the pan so cookies fall onto the cooling rack.

When cookies are cooled sprinkle with powdered sugar.