31 January 2012

Tuna Noodle Casserole

There is nothing better than a warm bowl of comfort food on a cold day. While not entirely healthy, this tuna noodle casserole sure hits the spot! I have memories of my grandma making this for a crowd on chilly Minnesota days. After hours of ice skating on the lake or playing in the snow with my cousins, we would run into Grandma's house (cheeks frozen and noses running) and just devour this! I emailed my aunt recently to get the recipe and I will say that her recipe brought back so many great memories!

Tuna Noodle Casserole
(Grandma Jan's recipe)
Yield: 6 Servings

2 C. Dry Elbow Pasta, cooked, drained and rinsed in cold water
1 Tbsp. Butter
1 C. Celery, chopped
1 Small Onion, diced
1 (10 oz) Can Reduced Fat Cream of Mushroom Soup
1/2 to 1 C. Milk (depending on how liquidy you want it)
3 (5 oz) Cans Tuna in Water, drained
1 (8 oz) Can Sliced Mushrooms
Salt and Pepper, to taste
Cheddar Cheese, shredded (for garnish)
Original Potato Chips, crumbled (for garnish)

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Meanwhile, in a medium pan, sauté the celery and onion in butter until fragrant and translucent; remove from heat. In a large bowl, mix together the cooked pasta, celery and onion mixture, cream of mushroom soup, milk, tuna, mushrooms, salt and pepper. Lightly coat a round or rectangular casserole dish with non-stick spray. Pour the pasta mixture into the dish. Top with an even layer of shredded cheese; be generous! Finally, sprinkle the top with crumbled potato chips. Cover the casserole and bake for 30 minutes. Uncover; bake for an additional 15 minutes until top is golden brown. Serve immediately.

30 January 2012

Cappuccino Biscotti

It is the end of January, yet it feels more like spring to us! I'm already dying for the outdoor farmer's markets to begin! Until then, I'll just continue to "spring clean" our place (really... I did that this weekend) and bake delicious goodies in the kitchen. Yum. This biscotti has to be one of my favs! Right after I took this picture, the biscotti fell into the cup of coffee. Oh darn! I didn't want it to go to waste, so I ate it :) It was love at first bite!

Cappuccino Biscotti
(Slightly adapted from Isabelle)
Yield: 3 dozen

2 C. All Purpose Flour
1/2 C. Sugar
1/2 C. Light Brown Sugar
1 tsp. Baking Powder
2 tsp. Instant Espresso Powder
1/2 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 C. Cold Butter, cut into small cubes
1 C. Milk Chocolate Chips
1/2 C. Chopped Walnuts, raw or toasted
3 Large Eggs, lightly beaten
2 Tbsp Coffee Liqueur (optional; I didn't use it)
Egg Wash (1 Egg, lightly beaten with 1 Tbsp. Milk)

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat. In a large bowl, gently mix the flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, espresso powder, cinnamon and salt. Using a pastry cutter (I just used 2 knives), cut in the cold butter until the mixture is fine and crumbly. Next, stir in the chocolate chips, walnuts, eggs and coffee liqueur (if using); mix until the batter is just moistened. Place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead the dough until it is soft and slightly sticky. Using floured hands, divide the dough into two parts. Shape each half into a log (about 10 inches long and 3 inches wide). Place the two logs about 3 inches apart on the baking sheet. Brush the top and sides of each log with the egg wash. Bake for 35 minutes, or until the top of the logs feel firm.

Remove from the oven, but to not turn off the heat. Set the logs on a wire rack and cool for about 15 minutes. Once the logs are cool to the touch, cut into 1/2-inch thick slides on the diagonal. Return the slices onto the same baking sheet and bake for an additional 10 minutes. Turn the cookies over and continue baking for another 5 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then store in an airtight container until ready to eat!

29 January 2012

Italian Wedding Soup

Are you ready for Soup Sunday? I wanted to post this in time for you to run out to the grocery store and pick up whatever ingredients you need to make this soup. Hubby said this is a definite repeat. I made a few tweaks from the original recipe to make it a tad bit healthier. I swapped the ground pork for ground chicken. My mom randomly told me that she wanted to make Italian Wedding Soup for dinner - yet another reason why I need to get back on the blogging bandwagon.

Sorry, but this has been consuming my time:

Hardest. Puzzle. Ever.... 1000 pieces later:

Italian Wedding Soup
(Adapted from Food & Wine)
Yield: 4 Servings

1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 Medium Onion, diced
2 Carrots, finely diced
2 Celery Ribs, finely diced
2 Quarts Homemade Chicken Stock
Salt and Pepper, freshly ground, to taste
1/3 C. Orzo or Ditalini Pasta
1 lb. Ground Chicken, Pork or Turkey (I used ground chicken breast)
1/4 C. Parmesan, freshly grated, plus more for serving
1/4 C. Bread Crumbs
5 oz. Baby Spinach
15 oz. Can of Chickpeas, drained and rinsed

In a large pot, saute the onion, carrots and celery in oil until just fragrant (3 minutes). Season with salt and pepper. Add the chicken stock and bring it to a low boil. Next, add the pasta and cook until al dente (about 7 minutes).

Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, knead the meat with the 1/4 cup cheese, bread crumbs and 1/2 tsp. of salt and pepper. Form the mixture into 1-inch balls. Drop the balls into the boiling soup and simmer for 5 minutes (You can also sear off the meatballs in another pan, if you prefer to do that before adding to the soup).

Stir in the spinach and chickpeas; simmer until meatballs are cooked through (about 5 minutes long). Serve immediately in bowls, passing extra cheese at the table.

19 January 2012

Frozen Banana Bites

Do you ever crave a little bite of something sweet and chocolatey after a long day? These frozen banana bites could just be the ultimate solution! Promise! One banana bite seems to satisfy my sweet tooth! The banana freezes just like frozen yogurt - YUM! I think these would be a nice snack for little ones too - just make sure they don't have peanut allergies! I guess you could omit the peanut butter, but I think that is what absolutely makes these so indulgent!

Frozen Banana Bites
(Adapted from Ashley)
Yield: 10 bites

2 Large Bananas
1/2 C. Milk Chocolate Chips
2 Tbsp. Peanut Butter
Unsweetened Coconut Flakes, to garnish

Line a large glass or plastic dish (that has a cover) with parchment or wax paper. Cut up each banana into five equal pieces. Next, heat the peanut butter and chocolate chips in the microwave for about one minute. Stir until smooth. Using a toothpick, dip the banana pieces in the chocolate-peanut butter mixture. Lay them out on the parchment/wax paper (leave spaces between the banana bites when drying). Repeat process until all are in the dish. Sprinkle with the coconut flakes. Cover and transfer to the freezer for at least one hour. These will keep for a few days in your freezer. Actually, we enjoyed them even more when frozen for at least 24 hours.

17 January 2012

Sriracha-Sesame Turkey Meatballs

When I find a recipe that looks delicious yet easy to throw together, I email it to myself immediately. I am always looking for simple, healthy meals that I can quickly make after work. Is anybody else with me on that?! The good thing about this recipe is that it would work well as an appetizer (for the Super Bowl!?!) or it works just as well as a main course over some greens or pasta. I love the little kick from the Sriracha too!

Sriracha-Sesame Turkey Meatballs
(Adapted from Kalyn)
Yield: 2 dozen meatballs

1 1/2 lb. Ground Turkey Breast
1 Tbsp. Garlic, minced
1 Tbsp. Fresh Ginger, minced
3 Green Onions, thinly sliced
1 Egg, lightly beaten
1/2 C. Bread Crumbs
1 1/2 Tbsp. Sesame Seeds
2-3 Tbsp. Sriracha Sauce (more or less, depending on taste)
1 tsp. Salt
1-2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
Additional Green Onions and Sesame Seeds, for garnish

In a medium bowl, mix the ground turkey, garlic, ginger, green onions, egg, bread crumbs, sesame seeds, Sriracha and salt. Then form meatballs with your hands (mine were about 1 1/2 Tbsp. of turkey mixture; it will be fairly soft).

Heat 1-2 Tbsp. of oil over medium heat in a non-stick pan (I used a Le Creuset Au Gratin dish to sear the meatballs because it tends to evenly distribute the heat and the meatballs don't stick to the pan). Once the oil is hot, place the meatballs in the pan and cook until cooked through (about 25 minutes, depending on the size of your meatballs). Remember to turn the meatballs every 5 minutes so all sides get nicely browned. Serve warm as is or over a bed of greens to make it more of a main course. Garnish with additional sliced green onions and sesame seeds.

16 January 2012

Chocolate-Dipped Gingerbread Biscotti

I've been following Lisa's blog, Authentic Suburban Gourmet, for a while now and it is fabulous. Check it out when you have time! When I saw her recipe for this biscotti, I "Pinned It" immediately! I knew these chocolate-dipped gingerbread biscotti were destined to be in my 2011 Christmas cookie boxes! I'm finally getting my life in order and wanted to repost the recipe so that I can remember it for years to come. These were quite delicious on Christmas morning with a cup of coffee!

Chocolate-Dipped Gingerbread Biscotti
(Recipe from Lisa)
Yield: 24 cookies

2 1/4 C. All Purpose Flour
1 1/4 C. Dark Brown Sugar, packed
2 tsp. Ground Ginger
1 1/4 tsp. Baking Powder
1 tsp. Ground Cinnamon
1/2 tsp. Salt
1/4 tsp. Ground Nutmeg
1/4 tsp. Baking Soda
1 C. Pecans, coarsely chopped
1/2 C. Dates, chopped
1/4 C. Molasses
2 Large Eggs
2 tsp. Orange Zest

Position a rack in the middle of the oven; preheat to 350F degrees. Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a Silpat.

In a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, combine the flour, brown sugar, ginger, baking powder, cinnamon, salt, nutmeg and baking soda on medium-low speed until well-blended. On low speed, mix in the pecans and dates. In a measuring cup, lightly whisk the molasses, eggs and orange zest. With the mixer on low, slowly pour in the egg mixture. Continue mixing until the doug is well-blended and comes together (approx. 2 minutes - don't worry... it will look dry at first, but will come together).

On an unfloured work surface, divide the dough into two equal parts. Shape each part into a log that is roughly 10 inches long and 3 inches wide. Position the logs on the lined cookie sheet. Bake until the tops are somewhat firm (approx. 35 minutes). Transfer the sheet to a rack and let cool (about 10 minutes).

Carefully transfer the logs to a cutting board. Using a serrated knife, cut each log into diagonal slices that are 3/4-inch wide. Return the slices to the cookie sheet. Bake until the biscotti are dried to your liking (about 10-20 more minutes). Transfer the cookie sheet to a rack and let the biscotti cool completely.

Chocolate Ganache

1 (12 oz) Pkg. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
1/2 C. Heavy Cream

Once the biscotti are cooled, prepare the ganache for dipping. Gently melt the chocolate chips and heavy cream over a double-boiler and stir until smooth. Keep over warm water while dipping the cookies. Dip each biscotti into the chocolate and place onto wax-paper on your counter. Let the chocolate dry completely before packaging.

10 January 2012

Healthy Chicken Pot Pie

Remember the days of frozen pot pie dinners? Please tell me that I'm not the only one who has these memories... I'm not saying that those were bad, but they definitely were not spectacular! These pot pies, on the other hand, are divine! I tried to make them somewhat healthier than the norm. We had a lovely Monday night chicken pot pie dinner with a side salad. I pre-chopped all of the veggies on Sunday, so prep for this wasn't too bad when I came home from work on Monday. Also, I have to confess that I used store-bought pie dough for the crust. It makes my life a lot easier on little things like this.

This is the second time that I have made this recipe, so I know that it is a keeper! I'm going to write it down on my fancy new personalized recipe cards that my MIL gave me! Thanks Marts!

Healthy Chicken Pot Pie
(A Thyme for Wine original)
Yield: 4 servings

1 Russet Potato, cubed
4 Carrots, peeled and sliced/diced
1 C. Frozen Peas
1 C. Frozen Corn Kernels
2 Tbsp. Unsalted Butter
4 Medium Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, cut into bite-sized pieces
1 Large Onion, chopped
1/4 C. All-Purpose Flour
1 1/2 C. Chicken Stock
1/2 C. Dry White Wine
1/2 C. Fat-Free Half and Half
1/4 C. Fresh Parsley, chopped
Salt and Pepper, to taste
1 Egg Yolk beaten with 1 tsp water
1 (9-inch) Pie dough round - homemade or purchased

Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Bring saucepan three-fourths full of water to a boil. Using a pasta insert or a large sieve, immerse the potato pieces in the water and boil for 4-5 minutes. Add the carrot pieces and boil for 3 minutes longer. Lift out, drain, and transfer to a bowl. Repeat with the corn and the peas, boiling for 1 minute. Set aside.

In a large sauté pan (with a lid) over medium-high heat, melt the butter. Add the chicken and cook uncovered, stirring occasionally, until browned on all sides (about 8 minutes). Season with salt and pepper. Add the onion and cook, stirring until softened (about 2 minutes). Sprinkle in the flour and stir well. Stir in the stock, wine, half-and-half and parsley; bring to a simmer. Cover, reduce heat to low and simmer for 10 minutes. Stir in the vegetable mixture. Transfer to four oven-safe bowls.

Brush some of the egg yolk mixture onto the pie dough round, which should be just a bit wider than your bowls. Place the round, egg side down, over the filling, and press the dough to the rim of the bowl. Brush the surface lightly with the remaining egg yolk mixture. Use a fork to poke a few holes in the top of the pie crust. Place the bowls on a baking sheet. Bake until the crust is golden brown (abut 30-40 minutes). Serve hot.

06 January 2012

Sun-Dried Tomato + Spinach Torta

We hosted a baby shower for one of my best friends over the holidays. It was a joyful occasion and I'm just counting down the hours until I get a phone call from Katie letting me know that her little bundle of joy has arrived! I saw this gorgeous sun-dried tomato and spinach torta on Pinterest and knew I just had to make it for the baby shower. It is a wonderful appetizer to make in advance and it serves a huge crowd. I paired it with gourmet fruit and nut crisps, but I bet it would be wonderful with fresh veggies or crostini too!

Sun-Dried Tomato and Spinach Torta
(Adapted from the Gallery Gourmet)
Yield: 15+ Servings

4 (8 oz) Packages Cream Cheese, softened (I used 1/3 less fat)
1 1/2 C. Parmesan Cheese, grated
3/4 C. Feta Cheese, crumbled
2 Cloves Garlic, finely minced or grated on a micro-plane
1 C. Frozen Spinach, thawed and squeezed dry with a paper towel
1 C. Sun-Dried Tomatoes in Oil, chopped, plus a few extra for garnish
1 C. Pine Nuts, raw or toasted
1/2 C. Basil Pesto, homemade or store-bought

In a bowl fitted with an electric mixer, beat the cream cheese, Parmesan, feta and garlic on medium speed. Divide the mixture into thirds. In a separate bowl, combine one-third of the cheese mixture with the spinach; set aside. Line an 8-inch round cake pan, bowl or spring-form pan with plastic wrap. Spread one-third of the cheese mixture in the bottom of the pan. Then, lay half of the sun-dried tomatoes on top. Spread the spinach/cheese mixture on top of the tomatoes. Lay the remaining tomatoes on top of the spinach mixture. Top with the remaining cheese mixture. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.

Remove plastic wrap on the top. Invert the torta onto a serving platter and carefully remove the plastic wrap. Press the pine nuts on the sides to cover (as seen in the picture). Spread the pesto on top and garnish with extra sun-dried tomatoes. Serve with crackers, crudites or costini.

04 January 2012

Happy 2012 + Chocolate Crinkle Cookies

First of all, I just want to let you know of my 2012 Resolution: BLOG MORE! To those of you who read this blog (a'hmm... my friends and family + a few trusty followers who started reading Thyme for Wine from the very beginning), I promise to start blogging more! Seriously! I'm even blogging during a new episode of Top Chef, which is unheard of in my life! My hubby, ohhh my sweet hubby, is doing the dishes right now. We have a deal. I cook and he does dishes. Is that best deal ever or what?! LOVE IT!

I hope all of you had a wonderful 2011. For us, it was a year of many highs and unfortunately many lows. We both earned our graduate degrees (which is aweeeeesome!!), got married (woohoo!), and moved to Chicago (brrrr!!!). With all of these fun things going on in our lives, we happened to lose some of our best friends... Three of them, to be exact. This NYE, Doug and I toasted to Grandpa D., Grandpa A., Grandma C, and the legacy that they left with us. Cheers!

This is what we saw out of our window on NYE 2011:

...And we ate leftover chocolate crinkle cookies with our champagne!

These are some of the best Christmas cookies that I've made in a while (if I do say so myself). I just love how they look! Plus, these cookies are like eating little brownie bites... sinful, decadent and quite delicious! If you aren't too "cookie'd-out," then I suggest whipping up a batch ASAP!

Cheers to you and yours in 2012! -Doug and Becky

Chocolate Crinkle Cookies
(As seen on Iowa Girl)
Yield: 18 Cookies

1/2 C. Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
1 C. Granulated Sugar
1 tsp. Vanilla Extract
1/4 C. Vegetable Oil
2 Eggs
1 C. All-Purpose Flour
1 tsp. Baking Powder
1/4 tsp. Salt
1 C. Powdered Sugar

In a bowl fitted with an electric mixer, beat together the cocoa, sugar, vanilla and vegetable oil. Beat in eggs, one at a time, until the mixture is smooth. In a separate bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt. Mix into wet ingredients in three batches, mixing until just combined in between each batch. Cover the dough and chill for at least four hours or overnight (this is an important step!!).

Preheat oven to 350F degrees. Scoop 1 Tbsp. dough, roll it into a ball between your palms and roll it in powdered sugar. Place on a parchment paper or Silpat lined baking sheet; bake for 8-10 minutes. Let cookies cool on the baking sheet for 2-3 minutes before removing to a cooling rack.