Bacon Parmesan Pasta

Monday, January 31, 2011

 This quick and easy pasta recipe from Pioneer Woman was as tasty and indulgent as its rich ingredients would indicate.   We completely devoured it and will keep this recipe in the rotation whenever we're looking for some hearty comfort food I know the whole family will enjoy. 
Click here for printable recipe

The ingredients:

1 lb. bacon
1 lb. rigatoni, penne, or ziti pasta
1/2 cup heavy cream
1/4 cup (2-ounces) cream cheese
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
2 whole eggs
1/4 tsp. black pepper
1/4 tsp. crushed red pepper

Directions:  In a skillet, fry the bacon until crisp. When done, remove bacon until cool enough to handle and roughly chop. 

Meanwhile, cook the pasta in boiling salted water until done. 

Place cream and cream cheese in a small saucepan.  Heat over low until cream cheese is melted, and whisk until smooth.  Remove from heat.  Add the Parmesan cheese, eggs, pepper, and crushed red pepper and whisk until blended. 
Drain pasta (reserving 1/2 cup of hot water) and return to pot.  Immediately add the white sauce and toss to coat.  The hot pasta will cook the eggs.

Stir in the bacon, and add some reserved pasta water until desired consistency is reached. 



Menu 1/31–2/6

Sunday, January 30, 2011

We’re in the middle of our second winter break right now.  It was supposed to only be a four-day weekend with teacher work days tomorrow and Tuesday, but with the three snow days this past week, it’s ending up being a full seven days in a row off of school!   My kids are loving it, of course, but I’m feeling like I could use a little jolt of routine back in my life right now!  My goal for tomorrow is to go grocery shopping, since we haven’t had a fresh fruit or vegetable in the house for two days (being snowed in with five kids is my  excuse for this oversight), and also to buy the supplies for our traditional Groundhog’s Day cupcakes.  Here’s hoping that by the time Mr. Groundhog pops his head up on Wednesday, that I’ll be back to some semblance of normalcy again!   Smile 

MondayGroundhog’s Day Cupcakes— This is a day off of school for my kids, so we’ll get started on making these cute little fellows for Groundhog’s Day on Wednesday.  It  is a decade long tradition in our family, to make them for each of the elementary kids to share with their classes, which means we’ll be making about 6 dozen of them this year.   
BBQ Chicken Nachos (new)
Black Bean and Avocado Salsa (recipe coming soon)

TuesdayPeanut Butter Pancakes—I totally need to take new pictures of this oldie, but goodie, so we’re using a day off of school to experiment with these! 
Creamy Lemon Pepper Chicken and Pasta –we tried this easy, creamy dish for the first time a few weeks ago and enjoyed it.  I have some ricotta cheese that’s expiring soon, so wanted to give it another try. 
Wednesday--BBQ Chicken Salad with Cilantro Ranch Dressing—this is one of our favorite healthy meals.  The cilantro ranch dressing is fantastic!   
Blueberry-Spinach Smoothie—we have smoothies all the time in the summertime, but I’m feeling like we could use a little nutritional boost around here, so we’re braving the cold drink on a cold day! 

Thursday--Hearty Quinoa Stew (new)—I have some quinoa I bought at Costco that’s just sitting in my cupboard, so I’m excited to finally put it to use!

French Peasant Bread—okay, I know….I make this every week.  Actually I usually make it at least a couple of times every week, but it’s SO easy, my family LOVES it,  and with half whole-wheat flour I just don’t feel that guilty about it! 
FridayWhite Chicken Pizza with Caramelized Onions made with our favorite whole-grain Pizza Crust—A fun twist on regular tomato-based pizzas.
SaturdayOrange Streusel Muffins—Citrusy with a streusel topping…what’s not to love? 
Southwestern Chicken and Black Bean Burritos—this is one of those long-lost recipes I made ages ago and forgot about, but with the BBQ sauce and grilled chicken I know we’ll enjoy it again! image 
Sunday—BBQ Chicken and Cheddar Sandwiches—I was looking for quick, easy and man-friendly for the Super Bowl festivities and this sandwich fits the bill perfectly! 
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookies—bar none, my husband’s favorite cookie ever. 
Avocado-Pomegranate Dip (coming soon)

Review of Last Week: 
Monday--Potato Kielbasa Skillet—everyone loved it all over again and took better pictures of it, since the previous pictures were from back in the earlier days of the blog.      
Tuesday--Nacho Mama's Mac and Cheese—kids devoured it.  Hubby and I thought it needed a little extra hot sauce to spice it up.  
--Sweet and Sour Chicken over brown rice—this one ended up getting booted off the menu for a left-over night instead.  We’ll put it back on again soon. 
Thursday--Raspberry Swirl Coffee Cake (made with blueberry yogurt and jam instead of raspberry)—turned out great.  I think it’s safe to say that substituting jams and yogurt flavors works wonderfully well to suit individual tastes. 
Old-Fashioned Chicken Noodle Soup (new recipe)—This one’s super easy and we totally LOVED IT!  Look for the recipe in the next few weeks! 
Friday--Makeover Chicken Crescents—This one’s always a family favorite!
Saturday--Apple Fritters—We didn’t actually end up making it, since we ran out of apples. We made Carrot Cake Pancakes instead and really enjoyed them with the Maple-Cream Cheese topping.  
Creamy Potato-Leek Soup (new recipe)—this one went into the okay category for me.  Everyone ate it, but I think it was the leek flavor that made it more like a three-star meal than a five-star meal for me.  My husband liked it and said I should publish it anyway, so I’m debating…. 
Sunday--Mexican LasagnaSmile
O' Henry Bars—LOVED IT, as always!

Go check Organizing Junkie for lots more Menu Plans!


Gorgonzola and Walnut Salad

Friday, January 28, 2011

I love a good salad, but usually get kind of lazy after making the main dish and just have one of the kids throw together a pre-made salad mix.    Every once in while, though,  I get the urge for something different...something good...something like this salad recipe from my friend Jenny.      I loved the contrast of the sweet and crunchy nuts, with the cool, crisp lettuce, and the soft, tangy cheese.   It's easy enough to serve on a weeknight and special enough to serve for guests. 

Click here for printable recipe.

Serves 6.

For Salad:
1 large head romaine lettuce or 2 hearts of romaine lettuce, rinsed, dried and torn into bite-size pieces
1/2 pound Gorgonzola or other blue-veined cheese, crumbled
1 red apple, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup dried cranberries (like Craisins)

For Dressing: (I used a store bought raspberry vinaigrette dressing)**
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice
1/2 cup walnut oil
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

For Caramelized Nuts:
1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans
3 Tbs. sugar

To caramelize the nuts:  In a dry frying pan combine 1 cup coarsely chopped walnuts or pecans with 3 tablespoons sugar over medium heat.  Stir constantly until sugar liquefies and nuts become golden brown; about 4-5 minutes; and remove from heat immediately when sugar is liquefied.   Spread nuts on foil and cool.  Break apart.  (NOTE:  Do not add any other fat or liquid to the pan.  In order for it to caramelize properly, you want it to be just the sugar and the nuts.)

For dressing:  In a small bowl, whisk together all of the dressing ingredients.  Refrigerate until ready to serve.  (NOTE:  Brianna’s Blush Wine Vinaigrette salad dressing (available at most grocery stores)  also works wonderfully well with this salad.)

To Serve the Salad:  In a large bowl, toss all of the ingredients together.  Add enough dressing to coat the entire salad, keeping in mind that a little dressing goes a long way.  Top with caramelized nuts just before serving. 



Cooking with Kids: Snowman Cupcakes

Thursday, January 27, 2011

In the eleven years we’ve lived in the DC area, we’ve experienced all sorts of wild weather—from tornado warnings, to behemoth snowstorms, to record breaking heat.  Yesterday’s weather took the cake though for weirdness though.  Over the course of 24 hours, we got snow, then rain, then sleet, then hail, then “thunder snow” (so the news called it), and then 8-inches of wet, heavy snow.   My friends’ Facebook statuses are littered with tales of 11+ hour commutes home last night and widespread power outages.  Thankfully, we live very near the Metro, so my husband’s commute wasn’t too horrible, and while our electricity did flicker several times, it never went out completely.  
But now, I’m left snowed in with five kids home from school yesterday, today, probably tomorrow.  We needed something fun and sweet to entertain us…like these cute little snowmen cupcakes.  With a little inspiration from an old Family Fun magazine,  some long-lost cupcakes we found in the freezer, and some leftover goodies from another project a few weeks ago—these cute fellows were born.  Fun for the kids, sweet to eat, and a snowman without the freezing toes!     

For more fun snowy day food projects see my Snowman Cookies and my  Groundhog's Day cupcakes
Click here for printable recipe. 

The ingredients: 
Baked cupcake
White frosting
2-3 large marshmallows
2 stick pretzels
1 Oreo cookies, “lid” separated from the cream filling
1 Junior Mint
1 orange gumdrop or candied orange slice
Fruit roll-up, cut into a narrow 7-8-inch long strip
Black decorating gel

Directions:  Frost the cupcake with white frosting.  Pressing down firmly with your hands, flatten 1-2 large marshmallows (depending on how high you want your snowman).  Gently spear the flattened marshmallows with a stick pretzel, leaving a small stem at the bottom to anchor into the cupcake.

  Add a whole, non-flattened marshmallow to the top for the head—pushing and squishing until it is stable and looks the way you want it to.  Using the small stem at the bottom of the pretzel, anchor it into the cupcake. 

Now for the fun part….decorating the snowman!  First break a stick pretzel in half and gently spear into the sides of the snowman, to be the arms.  Make sure they are placed low enough to accommodate the scarf and the face. 

Next, take the “lid” off of an Oreo cookie and spread a small amount of frosting onto the bottom.  Place on the snowman’s head to be the hat.  Dab a small amount of frosting onto a Junior Mint and place in the center of the Oreo, to finish the hat.  

Next, using  a pair of scissors, cut the orange gumdrop into a very small wedge shape, to be the carrot nose.  Using the point of a sharp knife, make a small hole in the top marshmallow where you would like the nose placed.  Place the orange gumdrop into the hole, using the tip of the knife if necessary. 

Next, using a pair of scissors, cut a fruit roll-up into a long narrow strip, measuring about 7-8-inches long.  Tie around the “neck” as a scarf. 

Lastly (and you definitely want to save this for last, so it doesn’t smear during the other steps), use the black decorating gel to pipe on the snowman’s eyes and mouth. 

Now step back and show off your handiwork, taking as many pictures as mom deems necessary.

Then do what you’ve wanted to do since the beginning… and enjoy!   


If you're looking for another fun cupcake project...don't forget to check out my cute Groundhog's day cupcakes for Groundhog's Day coming up next week. We've been making them every year for the last decade or so,  for the kids to share with their school classes


Quick Whole-Grain Pizza Crust

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Fridays have been "pizza days" in our house for the last several years.  I know it's one day of the week that no one will complain about what we're having and I, for one, need a no-brain cooking night now and then.  Occasionally we'll just order pizza from the local pizza joint when it's been a hard or busy week, but most of the time we like to make our own pizza from scratch. Sometimes we use a French bread base.   My husband, however, strongly prefers when I make a homemade crust.  Until recently I still skipped around from one pizza crust recipe to the other, never totally loving any that I found.  Then my teen daughter went to a cooking class at my friend Michelle's house as part of her homeschool curriculum and came home with this recipe.  It's simple and easy and made just the kind of crust I've been searching for all of these years---perfect textured, evenly cooked, and whole grain.  Thank you Michelle--we loved it.   I strongly recommend preheating the pizza pan for best results.  Enjoy! 

 Click here for printable recipe. 

Makes 2 thin crust pizzas. 

The ingredients:
4-1/2 tsp. active dry yeast
1-1/2 cups warm water (~115° F)
1/2 tsp. sugar
1-3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1-3/4 cups whole wheat flour  (all white flour can be substituted if desired) 
1 tsp. salt
olive oil, for brushing over dough

Directions:  Preheat oven to 450°.  Place empty pizza pan into the cold oven to preheat along with the oven.  (I find that preheating the pan helps the crust to have a better texture and to cook more evenly.) 

Dissolve the yeast and sugar in warm water.  Let rest for 8 minutes.  (I skipped this resting time). 

Knead together the flour, salt, and yeast mixture.  Split dough into 2 equal pieces and turn each part onto a floured surface and roll to a circle. 
I got my crust started on the floured surface, then gave my pizza flipping skills a try.  I was not very good, but had fun trying it out.  :)

Spray hot pizza pan with cooking spray and sprinkle with cornmeal (omit cooking spray if using a stoneware pan).                             never mind the messy table and well-loved pizza stone.  :)

Place dough circle onto the pan and push into place. 
Brush a light layer of olive oil over the dough, then add the sauce, cheese, and other toppings as desired. 

NOTE:  You can allow for about 10 minutes of rising time at this point, if you'd like to add a little thickness to the crust (this is what I prefer) or you can put it straight into the oven.  Bake for about 8 minutes or until done. 


About This Blog

My name is Lara and while I'm definitely not a gourmet cook, I do love preparing tasty, healthy meals for my family. Finding new recipes to try and sharing the ones we've already fallen in love with is a passion I've had since college and the reason why I've started this blog! With five kids, I'm usually in a hurry, so you'll find most of these recipes kid friendly and simple to make.

  © Blogger template On The Road by 2009

Back to TOP