Turkey and Artichoke Stuffed Shells with Arabbiata Sauce

April 28, 2009

With the temperature dropping in the past few days, the mood at our house has gone from “grilling” to “baking”. Since we love pasta, we thought that we should try this new variation of the regular ol’ stuffed shells from Giada DeLaurentiis: it uses ground turkey and artichoke instead of just regular cheese stuffing! And spicy sauce? Yum, I was sold! It sounded like a winner, and it was a winner! We loved the heartiness of the dish, and the artichoke stuffing added a nice combination to it.


  • 1 (12-ounce) box jumbo pasta shells (recommended: Barilla)
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/2 large yellow onion, chopped (about 1 cup)
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 1 pound ground turkey
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, plus 1/2 teaspoon
  • 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus 1/4 teaspoon
  • 1 (8 to 10-ounce) package frozen artichokes, thawed and coarsely chopped
  • 1 (15-ounce) container ricotta cheese
  • 3/4 cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 1/4 cup chopped fresh basil leaves
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley


5 cups Arrabbiata Sauce, recipe follows

  • 1 1/2 cups grated mozzarella (about 5 ounces)

Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil over high heat. Add the pasta and partially cook until tender but still very firm to the bite, stirring occasionally, about 4 to 5 minutes. Drain pasta.

Meanwhile, in a large heavy skillet, heat the olive oil over medium-high heat. Add the onions and the garlic and cook until the onions are soft and starting to brown, about 3 minutes. Add the ground turkey, 1/2 teaspoon salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and continue to cook, stirring occasionally, until the meat is slightly golden and cooked through. Add the artichoke hearts and stir to combine. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a large bowl combine the cooled turkey mixture with the ricotta cheese, Parmesan cheese, eggs, basil, parsley, and the remaining salt and pepper. Stir to combine.

To stuff the shells, cover the bottom of a 9 by 13 by 2-inch baking dish with 1 cup of Arrabbiata sauce. Take a shell in the palm of your hand and stuff it with a large spoonful of turkey mixture, about 2 tablespoons. Place the stuffed shell in the baking dish. Continue filling the shells until the baking dish is full, about 24 shells. Drizzle the remaining Arrabbiata Sauce over the shells, top with the grated mozzarella. If freezing, cover tightly with plastic wrap and place in the freezer for 1 day and up to 1 month.

To bake, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F. Bake until the shells are warmed through and the cheese is beginning to brown, about 60 minutes (20 minutes if shells are unfrozen.)

Arrabbiata Sauce:

2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
6 ounces sliced pancetta, coarsely chopped
2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
2 garlic cloves, minced
5 cups jarred or fresh marinara sauce

Heat the olive oil in a large soup pot over medium heat. Add the pancetta and saute until golden brown, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and saute until tender, about 1 minute. Add the marinara sauce and red pepper flakes and bring to a simmer. Remove from heat and let cool until ready to use.

Yield: approximately 6 cups


Chocolate Butterscotch-Chip Cookies

April 25, 2009

Regardless of how consistently gorgeous the weather was all throughout last week, we started getting warning for “storm & hail” on Friday night. We ended up getting a cloudy Saturday and I even had to put on my little spring coat when we went for our grocery run. In the up side, however, we thought that this was a perfect baking weather.

Red has been asking for some kind of cookies, plus we’re heading to a friend’s house for dinner. So we decided that we would try making these chocolate butterscotch chip cookies that I saw from an old Martha Stewart magazine.

We really enjoyed this recipe, but they turned out a little bit thinner than what I would normally like my chocolate chip cookies be. And the amount of butter can also be cut down. But the cookies in overall have great flavor from the combination of chocolate chip and butterscotch chips.


  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/4 cups (2 1/2 sticks) butter, room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 3/4 cup dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup butterscotch chips
  • 1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper, and set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together flour, baking soda, and salt; set aside.
  2. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars until light and fluffy, about three minutes. Add eggs and vanilla; beat until well combined. Add the flour mixture all at once, and beat until just combined. Stir in chips.
  3. Drop tablespoons of batter onto prepared baking sheets, two inches apart. Bake until golden brown, about 12 minutes. Transfer to a wire rack to cool on baking sheet, one minute, then transfer cookies to rack to cool slightly. Repeat until all batter has been used.

Outback’s Alice Spring Chicken

April 23, 2009

I have been wanting to try this recipe for a while. While I absolutely love Outback Steakhouse’s ribs, somehow, this is the dish that I end up ordering every time I go out to Outback! It has all of my favorite ingredients: chicken breast, mushrooms, BACON (oh my goodness!! Have you noticed how many recipes I have had that has bacon in it?), and tons of cheese (my other weakness!).

Red licked his fingers & plate, clean and shiny, as he wolfed his dinner down. So I think this was a keeper, meaning that yes, we’ll try this again in the future… maybe with a couple of modifications below.

I sauteed the mushrooms with sliced onions, because I thought it would make them softer, and sweeter… and I was right! Horaay! I also didn’t have enough shredded Mexican cheese (gulp!), so more cheese would have been better next time (my waist wouldn’t think so, but my taste buds usually win). And because I used really thick chicken breasts, I ended up leaving them in the oven additional 10-15 mins to ensure they are cooked thoroughly. Next time, I’d probably butterfly the thick slices for faster cooking. Enjoy!!

Source: http://www.recipezaar.com


  • 1 cup Dijon Mustard
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 4-6 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 2 cups sliced mushrooms
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon paprika
  • 12 slices bacon, cooked
  • 3 cups shredded Mexican blend cheese
  • 2 teaspoons chopped fresh parsley
  1. With an electric mixer combine the mustard, honey, and 1 Tbsp oil, and lemon juice for 1 minute.
  2. Pour 1/2 mixture over chicken in a gallon ziplock to marinate in fridge 2-24 hours.
  3. Chill remaining marinade to serve with chicken.
  4. After marinating chicken, preheat oven to 375°F Put remaining oil in frying pan. Heat and sear chicken on both sides.
  5. Transfer chicken to oven safe pan and brush with marinade.
  6. Meanwhile in frying pan add butter and saute mushrooms.
  7. Season chicken breasts with salt and peppers.
  8. Stack bacon across each breast, spoon mushrooms on each breast and then approx 1/3- 1/2 cup cheese on each.
  9. Cover pan with foil and bake 7-10 minutes or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with honey mustard marinade.

Yield: 4-6 servings

Barefoot Blogger: Croque Monsieur

April 23, 2009

This was my first recipe with the Barefoot Blogger group. For those of you who love Ina Garten as much as I do, please consider joining this awesome group. Click on the link on the right side of my web page to check out the details.

We made this the other night and invited a friend and her adorable young son over for dinner. She said that her husband was traveling to Germany for work. So I said, “We’re happened to be making Croque Monsieur for dinner tonight, wanna come over?” She said, in caps lock (because I was on IM with her),” YES. I LOVE CROQUE MONSIEUR. What time?”

We only used half of the recipe, but it was perfect for 4 people (we had a side dish and dessert as well though). The sauce took longer than I had anticipated to thicken, but it turned out great after I added more flour. My friend, by the way, is a French-American woman who have made this hundred times, and she thought that the recipe was “excellent”. Used the thick-sliced honey ham, and the white Pepperidge farm as Ina recommended.



2 tablespoons unsalted butter
3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups hot milk
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Pinch nutmeg
12 ounces Gruyere, grated (5 cups)
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan
16 slices white sandwich bread, crusts removed
Dijon mustard
8 ounces baked Virginia ham, sliced but not paper thin


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
Melt the butter over low heat in a small saucepan and add the flour all at once, stirring with a wooden spoon for 2 minutes. Slowly pour the hot milk into the butter–flour mixture and cook, whisking constantly, until the sauce is thickened. Off the heat add the salt, pepper, nutmeg, 1/2 cup grated Gruyere, and the Parmesan and set aside.
To toast the bread, place the slices on 2 baking sheets and bake for 5 minutes. Turn each slice and bake for another 2 minutes, until toasted.
Lightly brush half the toasted breads with mustard, add a slice of ham to each, and sprinkle with half the remaining Gruyere. Top with another piece of toasted bread. Slather the tops with the cheese sauce, sprinkle with the remaining Gruyere, and bake the sandwiches for 5 minutes. Turn on the broiler and broil for 3 to 5 minutes, or until the topping is bubbly and lightly browned. Serve hot.

Banana Cream Pie

April 20, 2009

I have been wanting to make a banana cream pie forever. All of the recipes that I have seen used 6+ eggs, some even call for 8-10 eggs! I wanted a simple recipe that produces delicious result, so I thought this Paula Deen’s recipe was a good one to use a starting point.

So what was the verdict? This pie has a wonderful flavor, but I thought that the filling could be a little less runny. “But it’s not supposed to be firm,” Red pointed out. I was wondering if he was right… Here are a few more observations.

We ended up using a 1% milk instead of whole-milk like she called for (and this could have been the reason the pie was runnier than I had expected). I also used 3 large bananas so I could make 2 layers of fruit. My bananas also were very ripe, so next time, I would probably take 2 T of sugar out of the measurement because I want my desserts to be a little less sweet than standard dessert.

Adapted from: The Lady and Sons, Savannah Country Cookbook by Paula Deen
Serves 6-8 pieces

1/3 cup plus 1/4 sugar, separated
3 T cornstarch
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 cups milk
2 egg yolks, lightly beaten
2 T butter
2 tsp vanilla
2 egg whites
2 bananas, sliced (or more)
One 9-inch pre-baked pie shell

In a saucepan over a medium heat, combine 1/3 cup of sugar with the corn-starch and salt. Blend in the milk, then egg yolks. Cook and stir until mixture thickens. Remove from heat, stir in butter and vanilla. Cool to room temperature.

Beat egg whites until soft peaks form, gradually add 1/4 cup sugar and beat until stiff peaks form. Fold in egg yolk mixture. In pie shell, alternate layers of banana slices and cream filling. Cover and chill. Top with whipped cream and additional sliced bananas, if desired.

Ricotta Pancakes with Banana Pecan Syrup

April 19, 2009
I stumbled upon this while searching for a recipe to use up my big bucket of ricotta cheese. While I absolutely love Ina Garten’s Banana Sour Cream Pancake, I was still very intrigued by this recipe and didn’t mind another pancake recipe in my repertoire.

This recipe uses very simple ingredients that you can find in any pantry and ricotta (I guess you can argue this as a pantry staple in an Italian home). At the same time, it skips the vanilla extract or lemon zest that are the standard in most homemade pancakes. And… the verdict?

Wow, I was absolutely blown away! This is probably even lighter & fluffier than Ina’s recipe, and the syrup was just absolutely divine. It makes the regular maple syrup even appropriate for a company. I hope you enjoy this recipe as much as we did.

Adapted from Food Network


For the Banana-Pecan syrup:

2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 cup chopped pecans
2 small bananas, thinly sliced (3/4 cup)
1 cup cane or maple syrup

For the Ricotta pancakes
2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 large eggs, separated
2 cups milk
4 ounces ricotta, well drained (1/2 cup)
Butter or vegetable oil


For the Banana-Pecan Syrup:
Melt the butter in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add the nuts and saute for about 1 minute, or until fragrant. Add the bananas and cook, stirring, for about 2 minutes. Add the syrup and cook for about 1 to 2 minutes, or until the syrup is hot and slightly thickened. Remove from the heat and set aside in a warm place.

For the Ricotta Pancakes:
Sift the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt together onto waxed paper or a plate. Beat the egg whites in a medium bowl with an electric mixer or whisk until stiff but not dry. Beat the egg yolks, milk, and ricotta together in a large bowl until well blended and smooth. Add the dry ingredients and mix gently with a large spoon. Stir a spoonful of the egg whites into the batter to lighten it, then fold in the remaining egg whites with a rubber spatula.
Warm a serving platter in a 200 degree F oven.

Heat a nonstick flat griddle or large nonstick skillet over medium high heat until hot. Grease with butter or vegetable oil. Pour 1/4 to 1/3 cup batter per pancake onto the pan and cook for about 2 minutes, or until bubbles form on the surface, then flip the pancakes over using a large wide spatula. Cook on the other side for 2 minutes, or until golden brown. Transfer the pancakes to the warm platter.

Serve immediately or hold in the oven while you cook the rest of the pancakes. Serve the pancakes on heated plates topped with the syrup.

Bacon-wrapped Jalapeno

April 18, 2009

I first saw this recipe on Pioneer Woman’s website and literally sprint to the grocery store as soon a I found out how easy this was to make! This has been a regular at our house when we can find fresh jalapeno at the grocery store!

Check out how easy this was to make:
Split the the jalapeno length-wise into two different pieces, seed both halves of the jalapeno (wear gloves!), and fill them with teaspoon of cream cheese. Next, wrap about 2-inch piece of bacon, secure them with tooth pick, and broil them for about 6-8 minutes until the bacon is slightly browned, and the cream cheese is bubbly!