Looking forward to the New Year

Hey guys! I am missing my kitchen. I am so appreciative for all my friends who have delivered meals to us in a time that just sucks. BUT, I am really missing my kitchen and cooking meals for my family. Bought a few cookbooks; researching some new food ideas and getting lots of inspiration for the new year. Have a happy new year and see you back in 2015!012

Ham, Spinach, and Cheese Strata

Ham, Spinach, and Cheese Strata

INGREDIENTS

3 tbsp. unsalted butter
1 onion, chopped
8 slices honey baked ham… deli ham, sausage, or even bacon would be delicious
1-2 packages of frozen spinach or 1 cup cooked fresh spinach- I had some leftover creamed spinach which I used…my girls are not big spinach eaters, so I eased up on what I may normally make for myself.
1 tsp. salt, divided
½ tsp. pepper, divided
Dash freshly grated nutmeg
6-8 cups bread, cubed in to pieces. The girls helped me break apart about 1 1/3 leftover Italian loaves
about 2 cups shredded cheese (whatever you have on hand…I used mild cheddar, mozzarella, and Gruyere)
2/3 cups grated Parmesan
8 eggs
2 1/2 cup milk

DIRECTIONS
Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the onions to the pan and cook until soft, about 5 minutes. Add salt, pepper, nutmeg, and continue to cook for 1 minute more. Stir in the spinach and ham. Stir to combine, remove from the heat, and set aside.

Spray the inside of a 3 quart baking dish. Layer the bottom of the dish with one third of the bread cubes. Top with one third of the spinach and ham mixture and one third of each of the cheeses. Repeat these layers with the remaining ingredients.
010

In a medium bowl, combine the eggs, milk, the remaining ½ teaspoon of the salt and ¼ teaspoon of the pepper. Whisk together until blended. Pour the mixture evenly over the layered mixture in the baking dish. Cover with plastic wrap and chill overnight.
012

Remove from the refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Preheat the oven to 350˚ F. Bake uncovered until puffed, golden brown and cooked through about 45 minutes. Let stand at least 5 minutes before serving.

001

002

Christmas Eve Dinner Tradition… Pork Ragu

Hey ya’ll!!! So it is Christmas Eve. The last 2 weeks have been kinda weird. Sad because we are missing our Lizzie; weird because life goes on and we feel a strange kinda “normal” which we love and hate.

So Christmas/Holiday is upon us. Kinda of a normal thing for most. Weird for a family who just lost their baby girl. We went shopping for 2 instead of 3. We ordered a table of 4 instead of 5. I set a table with 2 kid plates instead of 3…etc… kinda sucks, but it is our reality now.

So the last few years we have had Christmas Eve dinner at our house. I have made this the last couple of years. It is a hit. No fail. Easy win. Just do it…

https://funfoodiefamily.com/2014/06/15/pork-ragu-with-bucatini/ or try
https://funfoodiefamily.com/2013/12/27/pork-ragu-and-cheesy-polenta/

002003

Chicken Bruschetta with Pasta – Gluten Free!!!

Hey guys. So one of my friends was going to come and hang out and offered to bring dinner tonight. I was going to take her up on it, when I totally felt like I needed to cook something. I told her to bring a salad and some red wine; I would take care of the rest. I had no idea what I wanted to make.

I had a day to myself… I went to Pilates, went to lunch, and got my hair done. Then I decided to go to Fresh Market to look around and decide once I got there.

I really wanted to make my Bruchetta Chicken with pasta and marinara. But my friend is gluten free, so I needed to first make sure I could find a decent gluten free pasta. Quinoa pasta is supposedly gluey, plus it cost like $8. Then I saw brown rice pasta. I thought I remembered Rachel Ray say she really liked this, plus it was on sale for $3ish. Score! I got chicken breasts, tomatoes, mozzarella, basil, anchovies (don’t balk yet!), and all the other ingredients for the sauce..

Bruchetta Marinara Sauce

Ingredients

2-3 anchovies
1/2 onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, crushed and minced
1/2 container mushrooms sliced and chopped
1 28 oz. can of crushed crushed tomatoes
1 28 oz. can of diced tomatoes
4 squirts of tomato paste
1/3 bottle of red wine; I used Cabernet
2 tablespoons of Worcestershire
2 pats of butter
3 tablespoons sugar.
3 tablespoons of Dried Italian Herb mixture
fresh basil crushed and chopped
1 bay leaf

Directions

Heat a large dutch oven on med-high heat with 1 tablespoon olive oil and 2-3 anchovies. I know some people are going to make the stink eye at my anchovies. Don’t ya’ll. One of the main ingredients in Worcestershire is anchovies! Worcestershire is a chef’s best secret ingredient. You eat it is Caesar Salad, Hamburgers, Meatloaf etc… Once those tiny fish hit the pan, they melt like butter. You will thank me. Please try them. If you want to try to make this, but don’t have anchovies, just add a couple more tablespoons of Worcestershire.

Add a bit more olive oil and your onions. Cook down for 2-3 minutes with a bit of salt and pepper. Add your Mushrooms and garlic. Cook for a few more minutes before adding your tomato paste. Mix that around for a few minutes. A deep tomato smell will fill the air after a couple of minutes. Then add in your wine and Worcestershire. Mix and reduce down for 5 minutes or so. Add your herbs, bay leaf, and sugar. Mix and Reduce to low. Cook for at least 1 hour…the longer the better.

014
Bruchetta Chicken

4 Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts- season each side with salt and pepper.
Then, brown both sides of chicken in your cast iron skillet. Each side about 8-10 minutes. Put the pan in a 350 oven.

Cut a tomato and some mozzarella. Thinly slice some basil. I roll mine up then chop it up. Place these on top of your chicken in the oven. When you start to see your cheese melt a bit, turn on the broil. Cook until all the cheese is melted and browned on top.

I made the brown rice pasta according to the package. It still had a bit of a bite to it, so I added it the sauce. I mixed well. So yummy! I wouldn’t mind buying this pasta again for a gluten free friend =)

BruchettaChicken

Lizzie’s Legacy

Tue-149-LHey guys…

Not sure if all my followers know. We lost our sweet Lizzie this week. She has been suffering from Neuroblastoma, a childhood Cancer, for 5 years. Recently, she has been in bad shape and suffering. She went peacefully surrounded by her sisters and her daddy and me. We read her a book, gave her lots of kisses and hugs, and sent her off with a large celebration filled with hullahooping, bean bag tossing, arts and crafts, pictures, music, and of course, lots of food. Over 300 family and friends came and rejoiced in her honer. It was glorious and the perfect way to celebrate such an amazing girl who touched so many lives with her smile and bravery.

Not a lot of food will be posted here in the next few weeks.

Mario Batali says, “The best meal I’ve ever had is one some one else cooked.” I thank all those who have and will be bringing me dinners. You guys rock , and we can’t thank you enough.

If you feel inclined to help out in any way, please donate to a Children’s hospital, Ronald McDonald house, or any charity supporting sick kiddos.

Love you all so much.

Lazy Baker- 3 Ingredient Cookies Using Boxed Cake Mix

The girls spied a cake box mix in the cabinet a few days ago. Really? Who bought that? Oh, yeah…that was me a few weeks ago when the girls asked me to help them make a pink cake. I caved in and bought it, but it has been hidden in a unorganized pantry this whole time. I guess once your pantry starts to empty out, things start appearing out of no where. Anyways, I remembered seeing this recipe on Pinterest for making cookies out of boxed cake mix. SO EASY!

Lazy Baker- 3 Ingredient Cookies Using Boxed Cake Mix

Ingredients- makes about 12 cookies

1 box strawberry cake mix (hence the pink)
2 eggs
1/3 cup vegetable oil

Directions

Preheat oven to 375.
Mix the ingredients together in a large bowl.
Use a small ice cream scoop or tablespoon to make round balls.
Bake on a cookie sheet (I used a silicon liner on mine) for 10-12 minutes
Take out and cool.
Decorate with icing and sprinkles.

Becca and Katie had so much fun helping making the cookies and decorating. Brutus thought he might get some leftovers. Not today, buddy!

044

045049046050053

A Tale of Two Pastas- Vegetarian Edition

Hey guys! It has been a while. I trust everyone had a happy Thanksgiving? It was nice and relaxing here. It was pretty much the same…1. Turkey- this year I did a breast…014
here is where you can find the recipe. Delicious! http://whatsgabycooking.com/roasted-turkey-breast/ 2. Alton Brown’s Green Bean Casserole http://altonbrown.com/best-ever-green-bean-casserole-recipe/ 3. Bacon and Mushroom Stuffing, cranberries,and some other ideas for next year http://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2013/11/12/dining/essential-thanksgiving.html?_r=0

Feeling like you need a break from all that comfort food? How about some lighter comfort food? Vegetarian Comfort Food in fact. Here are a couple I have made in the last few days trying to use up pasta and some leftover ingredients in my kitchen.

image

Pasta Aglio E Olio

INGREDIENTS

1/2 box bow-tie pasta (usually spaghetti, but use what you have)
2 large or 3 small garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons of chili pepper flakes
1/3 cup of extra-virgin olive oil
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
a bit of chopped fresh parsley
as much as you want of Parmesan Cheese, grated

DIRECTIONS

Cook pasta according to package minus 1 minute, until it is al dente.
Strain and place in a large serving dish.
Add minced garlic, chili pepper flakes, olive oil, salt, and pepper, and mix together well. Add parsley on top and
Serve warm or at room temperature.

image

Antipasto Pasta

Ok, so this one is totally easy… I had some antipasto leftover from Thanksgiving… olives, artichokes, marinated mushrooms, roasted red peppers, garlic, marinated mozzarella balls, and feta all in olive oil. I added this to my remaining pasta and topped with more mozzarella. Perfection!