( 2:38 PM ) Beth  
I finally finished pan #1 of the baked rigatoni. (No, pan #2 is not going bad -- it was divvied into single servings and frozen.) In honor of the occasion, I'm posing the picture and the recipe:

Baked Rigatoni

1.5 pounds rigatoni
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large onion, chopped
2 pounds mixed hot and mild Italian sausages, casings removed
2 30-oz. cans Italian crushed tomatoes in puree
2 cups water
2 tablespoons basil
1 teaspoon oregano
1 teaspoon parsley
1 pound mozzarella cheese, shredded
1.5 cups grated Parmesan cheese (about 6 oz.)

1. In a nonreactive large saucepan, heat oil over medium heat. Add onion and cook 3 to 4 minutes, or until soft. Add sausage and cook, breaking up lumps of meat, 6 to 8 minutes, or until lightly browned. Pour off excess fat.
2. Add tomatoes with puree, water, basil, oregano, and parsley to pan. Bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cook partially covered 25 minutes. Uncover, increase heat to medium, and cook, stirring occasionally, until sauce thickens, 6 to 8 minutes.
3. In a large pot of boiling salted water, cook rigatoni until tender but still firm, 10 to 12 minutes; drain. Rinse under cool water; drain well.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, toss pasta with two thirds of the sauce. Stir in mozzarella cheese and 1 cup of Parmesan. Pour pasta into a 13x9-inch baking dish. Cover with remaining sauce and Parmesan cheese. Cover with foil and bake 25 minutes. Uncover and bake about 10 minutes longer, or until bubbly and lightly browned on top.

      ( 9:35 PM ) Beth  
A long overdue Macaroni and Cheese recipe. (Not to be disregarded simply because it's an unexciting dish, by the way -- I'd say it's got more of a kick than your average mac and cheese, and it's also healthier than the boxed variety.)

2 cups uncooked macaroni
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (low fat, if you're so inclined)
1/4 cup plain yogurt (nonfat, if you're so inclined)
2 teaspoons butter
1/2 tablespoon Dijon mustard
salt and pepper to taste

1. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the macaroni and cook until tender, about 8 minutes.
2. While the pasta is cooking, mix together the cheese and yogurt in a bowl.
3. When the pasta is done, drain and set aside. Put the pot back on the stove (I'd recommending rinsing it in cool water first, if you want to decrease the risk of scorching anything) and melt the butter over medium heat. Stir in the mustard, salt, and pepper. Add the cooked macaroni, tossing to coat. Mix in the cheese and yogurt. Continue to cook, stirring constantly, until the cheese is melted.

More long overdue posts to come...

      ( 7:08 PM ) Beth  
Eh, so I'm blogging about Sunday's cooking on Monday. These things happen.

Yesterday, I cooked...

Chicken and Broccoli

3 cups chopped broccoli
2 carrots, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons finely chopped yellow onion
1 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size pieces
2 tablespoons teriyaki marinade

1. In a large skillet, warm the oil over medium heat. Add all the vegetables and sauté until they begin to soften.
2. Add the chicken and 1 tablespoon teriyaki marinade. When the chicken begins to brown, add the second tablespoon of marinade. Cook for an additional 10-15 minutes, or until the chicken is cooked through. Serve immediately (or, if you're me, serve about 25 minutes later, after the rice is done simmering).

I wasn't all that thrilled to try this dish (mainly because it's not Italian), but I thought it would be good for variety's sake, and I actually ended up liking it quite a lot. It was very simple to cook, and so tasty to eat.

      ( 10:56 AM ) Beth  
In an effort to make up for skipped recipe posts (which James evidently enjoyed, at least), I present...

Crispy Cracker Chicken

2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
1 egg white, beaten
1/2 cup crushed wheat crackers (like Wheat Thins)
1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350.
2. Rinse and pat dry the chicken breasts. Coat with the egg white.
3. In a wide, shallow bowl or platter, mix the crushed crackers and Parmesan. Roll the chicken breasts in the mixture until they are well coated.
4. Place the chicken in a pan and bake for about 35 minutes, until the chicken is cooked through (no pink shows in the middle) and the cracker coating is crispy.

I liked this recipe because it was crispy like fried chicken, only not nearly as bad for you, because it wasn't actually fried. And, of course, the chicken that I didn't eat on Sunday night was great as a topping on my salad yesterday.

      ( 2:49 PM ) Beth  
An open letter to Margaret, former member of GCC's Bon Appétit staff:

Dear Margaret,
Your pasta sauté has nothing on mine.
love, Beth
PS - I miss you!

Chicken with Artichoke

1 tbsp extra-virgin olive oil
1 small yellow onion, chopped
1 green pepper, chopped
2 tsp dried basil
2 tsp minced garlic
1 can (14.5 oz) chopped, stewed tomatoes, drained
2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into bite-size chunks
half tsp salt
1 tsp pepper
1 can (14 oz) artichoke hearts in water, drained

1. In a large skillet, warm the oil over medium heat. Add the onion and pepper and sauté for 5 minutes.
2. Stir in the basil, garlic, tomatoes, chicken, salt, and pepper. Reduce heat and simmer until the chicken is cooked through, about 15 minutes.
3. Add the artichoke hearts and continue simmering until heated through.

Best served over rice or pasta.

If you're like me, you'll pick pasta, and you'll throw a generous amount of shredded mozzarella on top. That's how I roll. It was a heavenly lunch.

      ( 7:10 PM ) Beth  
I guess Sunday is turning into my big day to cook and then post about it. Today's project was Eggplant Parmesan. I thought it'd be pretty challenging to pull it off, but it ended up being easier than I expected. Recipe:

half cup bread crumbs
1 tbsp dried oregano
1 tbsp dried basil
1 medium eggplant, cut into half-inch slices
5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
2 and a half cups crushed tomatoes
salt and pepper to taste
one third of a 16-oz block of mozzarella cheese, thinly sliced
one fourth cup grated Parmesan cheese

1. Preheat oven to 350.
2. In a shallow dish, combine the bread crumbs, oregano, and basil.
3. Dip each slice of eggplant in the bread crumbs, coating both sides.
4. In a skillet over medium heat, cook the eggplant slices in just a touch of oil (save at least 1 teaspoon of oil for later use), for about 2 minutes per side, or until light brown.
5. Place the eggplant in a single layer in an ungreased baking dish.
6. In a saucepan over medium heat, warm the reserved teaspoon of oil. Saute the garlic for 2 minutes, then add the tomatoes, salt, and pepper. Continue cooking until the mixture is thoroughly heated.
7. Pour the tomato mixture over the eggplant slices. Top with mozzarella and sprinkleParmesann evenly over the dish.
8. Bake for 30 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool for 10 minutes before serving.

I didn't take a picture, because all you would've seen was the cheese on top anyway ... but, even without a tantalizing image to go by, trust me; it was delicious.

PS - SoaP was everything I thought it could be, and so much more. Go see it. Preferably with a big group of cynical-yet-exuberant friends. Love it. (And don't leave during the credits. Wait 'til the music video finishes.)

      ( 10:35 PM ) Beth  
The first meal I cooked: Baked Ziti

(Also pictured, in the background: the remains of the salad I ate while my main course was baking.)

(Also also pictures, my new placemats and hot pads from Ikea.)

If you're very perceptive, you may notice that I used mini penne pasta, not ziti. So sue me.

half of a 16-oz package of ziti
half pound of lean ground beef
half yellow onion, finely chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 cups tomato sauce
oregano to taste
basil to taste
salt to taste
1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
2. Bring a large pot of water to boil. Add the ziti and cook for about 8 minutes. The ziti should be slightly undercooked and chewy. Drain; set aside.
3. In a large skillet over medium heat, brown the beef with onion and garlic. Stir in the tomato sauce, herbs, and salt.
4. Mix the ziti with the sauce and cheese in an ovenproof dish, saving some cheese to sprinkle on top. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.

I was very pleased with my baked ziti. It was not the most interesting or adventurous dish I could have tried, but I wanted to keep it simple and cook something that I knew I'd like, even in the form of re-heated leftovers. And I think I succeeded. I did make an unadvisable substitution, which was swapping out the garlic cloves for garlic powder (I didn't have any garlic cloves on hand. Shame on me.) ... and that probably made the dish a little more bland than it otherwise would have been (there's also, I'm sure, an art to knowing how much of any season is "to taste"), but I still enjoyed it. I think I'll manage to eat well. =)

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