Crock-Pot Bowtie Lasagna

We all know that a classic lasagna takes up to an hour or more to bake, so with this recipe I set out to create a lasagna substitute that tasted just like lasagna, but shaved off half or more of the cooking time. Farfelle pasta was a new experience for me, but I have to say that it was one of the best pastas that I have had. This recipe feeds a crowd, so don’t make it for 2-4 people. It can comfortably feed ten, and as a side dish probably double that amount. This episode of Delicious Food 101 features El Gastronomo, Friar Tyst, and The Chef. First we will hear a word on kitchen safety from El Gastronomo.

Cooking With Raw Meat, Kitchen Safety Edition: El Gastronomo: “When cooking with any type of raw meat, it is necessary to make sure that the meat it completely thawed before use. This is especially important if it is going to be fried. You wouldn’t want to start an oil fire in your kitchen! In addition to this, frozen meat does not cook thoroughly, it simply burns on the outside and stays raw on the inside.”

Well, that’s good to know! Thank you sir, for that essential lesson on cooking raw meat.

The Ingredients: 1 lb. Farfelle (or Bowtie) pasta, 1 24 oz. can Hunt’s four cheese pasta sauce, 1 cup of diced tomatoes, 1 cup of ground turkey, 1/2 cup of sour cream, 1 cup of cottage cheese, 6 oz. baby spinach, 1/2 to 1 cup pre-shredded Italian blend cheese, 1/2 cup olive oil, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1/4 tsp. cumin, 1/4 tsp. garlic (FYI, when I say garlic in my recipes I mean garlic powder.)

Thaw ground turkey in your microwave until it is no longer frozen. Add 2 tbsp. of the olive oil to a large saucepan. Cook the meat over medium high heat for 10 minutes, or until the meat is cooked in the middle, breaking it up as you go. While you are cooking the meat, boil the pasta for ten minutes, then turn off the heat. Add the pasta, meat, pasta sauce, diced tomatoes, cottage cheese, sour cream, and spices to your crock-pot, turn the heat on low. In the same pot that you used for the pasta, wilt the spinach in batches over medium heat, using 2 tbsp. olive oil to 1 cup of spinach. Add the wilted spinach and cheese to the crock-pot. Let cook for an additional ten minutes. Serve warm with toasted Italian bread.

Pardon the shadowy picture, it looks better in artificial light.:)

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German Chocolate Fudge Cake

I always love creating easy desserts that taste complicated! For a while now I’ve been trying to think up the perfect destiny for a certain German Chocolate cake mix in our pantry. And all at once it came to me in a vision: mini chocolate bars, chocolate chips, butter…..(of course!) Which led to a dessert that chocoholics  will love! Even if you do not like chocolate, this recipe will convert you to a more superior human being. Or maybe it will just encourage the ol’ thighs to become more prominent, but don’t let that little idea/fact scare you off!

The Ingredients: 1 German Chocolate cake mix, 1 stick of melted butter, 1/2 cup of coconut milk, 1/2 cup of semi-sweet chocolate chips, 1 regular size chocolate bar or 4-5 mini chocolate bars.

In a large mixing bowl, using a rubber spatula, combine the cake mix, melted butter, coconut milk, and chocolate chips. Mix until the batter is thick and creamy. Divide the batter in half, press one half into the bottom of a baking dish. Break the chocolate bar or bars into half-inch pieces. Arrange them evenly atop the first layer. Press the remaining batter over the tops of the chocolate pieces, being careful not to mix them into the batter. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. The cake should be slightly crispy on the top and soft, but not overly doughy in the middle (my explanations aren’t for everyone). Serve while warm.

It may not look like much. but appearances are deceiving!

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Skinny Tomato Bisque

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Skinny Tomato Bisque, a delicious vegetarian dish, otherwise known as Queenbee’s new favorite soup. I created this soup by accident. Originally it was meant to be a pasta sauce, and while it is good with noodles, nothing can compare to the original. This soup/stew is based entirely off of vegetables, with very few additions. Who knew that something so simple could be so delicious! This episode of Delicious Food 101 features The Chef (of course!) and The Health Inspector.

The Chef: “Mr. Health Inspector, what do you think about this recipe?” The Health Inspector: “I haven’t tasted it yet.” The Chef: “Okay, well you can let me know later then. Is the preparation above board?” The Health Inspector: “We’ll see.”

The Ingredients: 1 28 oz. can Hunt’s crushed basil tomatoes, 1 1/2 cups vegetable broth, 3-4 large carrots, 1 yellow squash, 2 stalks celery, 1/4 cup diced yellow onion, 2 tbsp. sour cream, 2 tsp. basil, 1 tsp. no salt seasoning, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 cup of water, 3 tbsp. olive oil.

Chop the carrots, squash, and celery into equal pieces. Add the carrots and one tbsp. of olive oil to a skillet over high heat, saute for 5-8 minutes. Reduce the heat to medium. Add the squash, celery, onion, and the remaining olive oil. Saute for an additional ten minutes. Puree the tomatoes, sour cream, and spices in the bowl of your food processor. Add the tomato mixture to a soup pot over medium low heat. Add the sauteed vegetables and water to the bowl of your food processor, pulse until the vegetables are finely minced. Add the minced vegetables to the pot and cook for ten minutes or until the soup is hot. Serve while warm.

How about a closer look?

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Easy Pizza Puffs

Easy Pizza Puffs are a very simple, but very tasty treat that can be adapted to fit any meal. Anything that combines tomato sauce, cheese, and bread is a definite crowd-pleaser. As far as names go, this was the most debated recipe ever. We could not decided on a name for it!  Here’s all the things that we came up with, and let me say, it provided me with a good laugh.:)

El Gastronomo: Pizza Clouds, Clouds of Pizza. Queenbee: Easy Pizza Clouds, Pizza In a Cloud, Cheesy Pizza Pillows. La Critico: Pizza Pillows, Pizza Mash, Puffy Pizza Scallions (what?), Pizza Oysters (huh?). The Health Inspector: Pizza Puffs, Puffy Pizzas. Friar Tyst: Inflatable Pizza Biscuits (very original). The Chef: Puffy Pizza Pillows (disturbing I know), Pillows of Pizza, Puffy Pizza Rolls.

The Ingredients: 1 16.3 oz. can Pillsbury Biscuits (Buttermilk or Southern Style), 1 tsp. garlic powder, 1 tsp. Italian Seasoning, 1/2 to 3/4 cup tomato sauce, 1/2 cup grated Colby cheese, olive oil.

Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Grease a regular size muffin pan with olive oil. Flatten each biscuit into a circle and press each one into one of the holes in the muffin pan. Evenly distribute the spices between each biscuit. Spoon two teaspoons of tomato sauce into the center of each biscuit. Sprinkle the cheese evenly across the tops of the puffs. Bake for 10-12 minutes. Makes 8 large puffs.

Look at those cheesy wonders! And no two of them look the same (notice the puffs with bites out of them in the very back).

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Creamy Gnocchi Soup with Herbs

Anyone who has been to a certain Italian restaurant knows how good their Chicken Gnocchi Soup is. So today I set out to recreate said amazing recipe, and I believe that I have succeeded in creating a healthier, lighter version that is still just as creamy and just as flavorful. Next to Chicken Garden Soup with Dumplings, this is my new favorite soup. Now, let it be said that in my opinion, making your own gnocchi is too complicated and intricate. I am sure that the homemade way tastes fresher than store-bought gnocchi, but I am sticking firmly to my belief in packaged gnocchi. Yes, this is the first time that I have cooked with gnocchi, can you tell? Anyway, enjoy this soup and don’t be afraid to tweak it to suit your taste-buds!

The Ingredients: 4 cups of water, 2 cups of half and half, 3 large carrots, 5 stalks of celery, 1/4 yellow onion, 1/2 cup of cooked, cubed chicken (for flavor), 1/2 cup bread flour, 3 tbsp. olive oil, 3 tbsp. butter, 1/2 of a Knorr extra large vegetable bouillon, 1 tsp. Italian seasoning, 1 tsp. basil, 1 tsp. thyme, 1 tsp. parsley flakes, 1/2 tsp. salt, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1/2 tsp. cumin.

Bring water to a boil in a large soup pot. When it comes to a boil, add the bouillon. Turn off the heat and add all of the spices. Stir gently to combine and leave it on the burner. Finely dice the carrots, celery, and onion. Add the carrots, celery, olive oil, and butter to a saucepan over high heat. Cook for ten minutes. Add the onion, cook until the onion is translucent. Turn off the heat and add the flour, stirring constantly. Remove from the heat and add the half and half. If the mixture seems too thick, add half a cup of water. Add the vegetable mixture to the broth in the soup pot.

This picture does not do the soup justice, however, it does portray the creaminess.:)

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Penne with Carrots and Peas

Picture it: A weeknight, I had not idea what I was going to make for supper, I looked at the contents of our pantry and saw dry penne noodles, green peas, and Campbell’s soup, I looked in the refrigerator and saw carrots, celery, and leeks. From there an idea was born. Penne with Carrots and Peas is a very easy, user-friendly dinner that your family will love. This dish has a very neutral flavor with just enough wow factor to make it a repeat recipe. You can spice it up or tone it down any way you want, don’t let me stand in the way of your creativity.:)

Cooking Tip: Never let a follow-along recipe stand in the way of your creativity. Follow your instincts when it comes to cooking.

The Ingredients: 12 oz. penne, 3 large carrots, 3 stalks celery, 1 leek (minced), 15 oz. green peas (canned or frozen), 1 10 oz. can condensed soup (cheddar cheese or cream of chicken), 1/2 to 3/4 cup water, 1/2 tsp. black pepper, 1 tsp. basil, 1 vegetable bouillon, 2 tbsp. olive oil, 1 tbsp. butter.

Bring a large pot of water to a boil, add the bouillon and penne, cook for ten minutes while you make the sauce. Slice the carrots into equal pieces. In a large saucepan over high heat, saute the carrots with half of the butter and olive oil for ten minutes. Dice the celery and add it in, saute for an additional five minutes. Reduce the heat to medium, add the condensed soup and water, stir until the soup thins. Add the minced leek, green peas, and spices, mixing well. When the sauce begins bubbling, remove it from the heat and add it and the cooked noodles to a large serving bowl. Serves 6-8.

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Spiced Baked Apples

The simple things in life are NOT overrated. I remember my mom making baked apples for us when we were little kids, they were always such a treat, and became a comfort food for me. As of late we have been creating more exotic and creative dishes, but I think that every once in a while you need to return to your roots. Find your happy place as far as comfort foods go. This is a very simple recipe for baked apples, but they always turn out absolutely indescribable in terms of flavor and awesomeness. I hope that this trip down memory lane brings you as much joy as it did to me.

The Ingredients: 5 apples, cinnamon, nutmeg,  5 tbsp. brown sugar, 5 tbsp. butter, 3-4 tbsp. light corn syrup.

Core the apples and place them in a baking dish. Stuff 1 tbsp. of butter and 1 tbsp. of sugar into each apple. Sprinkle both spices evenly across the tops. Bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes, remove the apples from the oven and spoon the corn syrup evenly over the tops and centers. Return the apples to the oven and bake for an additional 20-25 minutes.

By the time I got the camera out there were only a few lonely loners left, they may not look like much, but to me, baked apples taste like home.:) Sweet, soft, rich but gentle in flavor……

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