Monday, January 31, 2011

Pasta e Fagioli - Olive Garden style

Snow days.

Ah, how I love snow days. When I was little, snow days meant hours of reading Babysitters' Club, playing Oregon Trail, and maybe venturing out to throw some snowballs at my sister.

Now, snow days mean sleeping in, catching up, cleaning my house, baking bread, and fixing a big pot of soup.

Tomorrow is a snow day - I got a head start on the soup. :-)

I love Olive Garden's pasta e fagioli soup - it's kind of an Italian chili. This is seriously a perfect copy of that recipe. Love it!

Start by browning 1/2 lb Italian sausage and 1/2 lb ground beef.

Chop up some carrots, celery, onion, and garlic. You'll need about a cup of each veggie, and 2 cloves of garlic.

Toss these in the pot with the browned meat, and let them hang out for about 10 minutes. Good things will happen.

Pour in two 14-oz cans of diced tomatoes, one 15-oz can of tomato sauce, another 8-oz can of tomato sauce, 1/2 cup water, a tablespoon of vinegar, one can of great northern beans, and one can of red kidney beans.
Mix it all together and add one teaspoon each of basil and oregano, then half a teaspoon of thyme. Salt and pepper the soup, and let it groove (a.k.a. simmer) for about an hour.

About 10 minutes shy of the hour mark, boil some water and cook the pasta to go in the soup. The original recipe suggested ditali pasta, but HyVee didn't have any, so I just got some small shells. I used a 7 oz box.

Toss these in and stir to combine.


I happened to have some fresh parmesan on hand, so I grated some on top of the soup.

This is a perfect winter meal, and so easy to throw together!!
Here's the link to the original recipe.

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Cookie Extravaganza!

This Christmas I made 10 dozen cookies.

Excessive, I know.

But I love giving cookies away, and I made 4 new recipes this year.

I made Pistachio Sandies (similar to Russian tea cakes or Mexican wedding cookies) - delicious!

I forgot to take a picture of these all dressed up with powdered sugar. But they were even better. :-) I included the recipe at the bottom of this post.
I made spicy molasses cookies (courtesy of The Pioneer Woman)

Also very tasty.

But then I made these.

Chocolate candy cane cookies.
Also from The Pioneer Woman.

These turned out to be beautiful. But not tasty.

The cookie kind of tasted like cardboard. But I really like the idea, so I might try to find a better chocolate cookie idea.

Pistachio Sandies
1 cup pistachios, skins removed
8 oz butter, softened
2 1/4 cup flour
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1/2 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp water
1 cup extra powdered sugar for dusting/rolling
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Grind the pistachios into a course meal. Place butter into a large bowl and beat for 30 seconds. Add half the flour, powdered sugar, vanilla extract, and water. Beat until blended and then add the rest of the flour. Stir in the nuts. Pinch off 1-inch pieces of dough and roll into balls. Place onto a cookie sheet and bake for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool all the way and then dust with powdered sugar.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Lemon Butter Cookies

I have a cookie extravaganza post coming up, but I wanted to highlight this cookie.

It's light and crisp and fantastic.

I got this recipe from Sassy Radish, a cooking blog I've had been following lately.

I didn't take pictures of the dough process, so I'll just refer you to the above link. You have to let the dough rest overnight - I shaped mine into a long rectangle so I would have little square cookies. This was a great idea. :-)

After it's rested, brush it with an egg yolk and roll it in sugar until it's totally covered.

The more sugar, the better. Always.

Slice it up - this makes a lot of little cookies.

I got all 50 bazillion of them to fit on one cookie sheet, so that worked out well! Make sure you use parchment paper so they pop right off.

Aren't they cute?

They just need about 12 minutes in the oven, rotating them halfway through.

Lovely! You should most definitely make these at your earliest convenience!!