The Internet Cookbook: Penne Bake with Spinach and Tomatoes

I haven’t been cooking anything new recently because I have been so busy. But I happened to find a dish that sounded so good, I had to give it an immediate try. Everybody in our house loves penne pasta, so this recipe from Bev Cooks fit the bill perfectly.

I didn’t have any Pomi tomatoes on hand (don’t they look delicious?) so I had to make do with what was in the pantry. For my meat loving family, I added thinly sliced beef smoked sausage and skipped the breadcrumbs  to lower the carbs. It was a huge hit with everyone.

I never would have thought of using smoked paprika as one of the main seasonings in the dish. It made for a refreshing change from my usual pasta dishes. I’d like to try it again and use cubed cooked chicken and small julienned ham slices. I think the smoky flavor of the paprika would complement it nicely!

The Internet Cookbook: Quinoa, anyone?

One of my Twitter friends had posted a lovely picture of a quinoa dish she’d made for dinner, so, in return, I promised I would post one of my favorite quinoa recipes. Okay, actually, I am going to post two of my most-used quinoa recipes- one for a tasty soup and the other for one of my favorite side dishes.

Quinoa is known as the “Wheat of the Andes.” Because it is a complete protein, high in iron and fiber, some people consider it a superfood. If it’s your first time cooking quinoa, remember that it generally needs to be washed first to remove the naturally occurring bitter saponins. I usually buy Bob’s Red Mill from Amazon because it is organic and has been pre-rinsed so I don’t have to wash it. Quinoa comes in several varieties, including a red quinoa.

Chupe de Quinua:  This is a traditional Peruvian soup that is incredibly tasty and filling. The recipe calls for 250 grams of quinoa; for the metrically challenged like me, that’s about 8.8 ounces. For the cheese, I used queso fresco.  Be sure to fry the onions and garlic until they are golden; it’s what gives the soup its lovely color.  

Quinoa with mushrooms:    I usually make this dish with red quinoa because I think that it looks more attractive. It is a great side dish and a nice change from rice. If you want to make the dish vegan, you can use water or vegetable broth instead of the chicken broth.  

I am always on the look out for more dishes using quinoa. Anyone else have any good recipes to share?

The Internet Cookbook: Ham and Asparagus Risotto

Risotto is a  family favorite in our house. This creamy Italian dish made of arborio rice cooked in broth is generally considered intimidating because it must be cooked slowly with constant stirring. The solution? The microwave oven. This recipe for risotto with ham and asparagus takes only about 30 minutes to prepare and because it is cooked in the microwave, it doesn’t require the constant attention of the stovetop version.

While it is possible to use other kinds of rice, risotto is traditionally made with arborio ricebecause of its ability to absorb liquid.

This recipe is versatile, too! You can change the ingredients to make various risotto dishes. I have made mushroom risotto or a traditional one with saffron and peas (Risotto con i Pisellini e Zafferano).  It can also be adapted for recipes such as Lemon risotto with saffron or Risi e Bisi (rice and peas w pancetta). You can also substitute vegetable broth or potato water for the chicken broth to make a vegetarian version.

The Internet Cookbook: Easy Peasy Cherry Crumble Cake

Caveman Cooking is one of my favorite cooking blogs.  My friend Mark is not only a great cook, but his blog is a very entertaining read.  I have been planning for a while to highlight one of his recipes, but couldn’t decide which one to feature – he has so many good ones!  This recipe is actually from Mark’s wife, the Cavewoman. She is a fantastic baker and the recipe is quick, easy and utterly delicious!

And for the record, this is now officially our new favorite dessert! And it is vegetarian,  too!

The recipe is also versatile.  The first time I started to make this, I spotted  a box of devil’s food cake mix while looking for the yellow cake. Thinking of the chocolate and the cherries, the first thing the went through my mind was Black Forest!  The next time I made this, I did indeed use the devil’s food mix and the Black Forest Crumble Cake was delightful!  Next time I am going to try using pumpkin cake mix with a can of apple pie filling and see if I like the results.  🙂  Sounds like something that would be lovely for a fall day…. LOL, I have to start practicing now, right?

The Internet Cookbook: Baked Eggs with Spinach and Brioche

I am trying to add more meatless recipes to our diet and this recipe is a wonderful addition.  The dish is simple to make but has a gourmet flair and tastes absolutely incredible! It is perfect for brunch, but also great for a late night supper.  I substituted bagels for the brioche and sour cream for the creme fraiche.  It was still fantastic!

Brioche is French for a rich bread made with lots of eggs and butter.  Although historians don’t think the story is true, supposedly,  brioche is the cake in the Marie Antoinette “quote” of “Let them eat cake.”

The Internet Cookbook: Spinach and Tomato Orzo

This spinach and tomato orzo dish from Angie of the Southern Grace Gourmet blog has turned into one of the staple dishes that I make at least once or twice a month. It has a rich creamy taste that is absolutely scrumptious!  I add cooked shrimp and Parmesan cheese to transform it from a side dish to a main course.  Serve it with bread and salad and it is a great meal. You can even substitute whole wheat orzo for the regular pasta and the dish turns out great.

Angie has some great recipes on the Southern Grace Gourmet blog and I recommend taking a look, especially if you love southern cooking. You can also follow her updates on Facebook and Twitter.

The Internet Cookbook: Chris’ Bay Area Burgers

I love a good burger and frequently add various seasonings when cooking them that give a unique and individual taste.  This recipe makes one of the best burgers I have ever eaten.  The addition of olive oil, garlic and  basil gives these burgers a lot of flavor.  I added onions to the mix and served it topped with slices of mozzarella cheese on freshly baked ciabatta bread.  It made for a divine Italian inspired sandwich.

The Internet Cookbook: Black Bean, Chicken and Roasted Corn Stew

When I found this recipe, I wasn’t sure that I was going to like it. So, I was totally blown away when I tasted it and found out just how good this stew really is.  And so easy! There are a lot of “adaptations” of this recipe out there on the web, so a lot of evidently people like it enough to make it their own. 

I added a cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese to the recipe when I made it.  I also reduced the Cilantro to a small amount and just used it for garnish.  I served it with sour cream and tortillas  for a great meal.  My family went wild over the dish and it is one of my new staples!

To try later: I also thought that this might be tasty If I substituted the chicken with cooked pork or cooked shrimp for a change of pace.

The Internet Cookbook: Sweet English Breakfast Porridge

Probably more than any other food, hot breakfast favorites really seem  to trigger memories.  Whether it is simple childhood favorites or newer dishes that speak to a more “adult”  sophisticated palate, we tend to equate breakfast foods with comfort.  This oatmeal recipe from InnCuisine.com is so good, breakfast is definitely a memorable experience!

I prefer steel cut Irish oats to rolled oats and make this in my rice cooker. I use 2 cups water and 2 cups milk to one cup of McCANN’S Steel Cut Irish Oatmeal. Cook in the rice cooker on the porridge cycle, then follow the recipe as written. One taste and you will never want instant oatmeal again! I now make this once a week (and not always for breakfast!).

The Internet Cookbook: Rice Pudding

I love recipes that you can easily make in the crockpot. While I frequently use the crockpot to make dinner, I often forget how versatile it is for cooking deserts.  This recipe for crockpot rice pudding is not only simple and easy to make, but tastes fantastic! For a special treat, try it served warm with a scoop of homestyle vanilla ice cream. Yummy!