Cheesy Pepperoni Roll-Ups

I have become addicted to Pinterest in the last six months. It happened somewhere between wanting to make inspiration boards for clothes and needing ideas for the dorm room. Nonetheless, I am addicted. I was sucked in like a bunch of other people, and now I spend as much time (if not more) on Pinterest than Facebook and Twitter… Which is saying something.

This Pinterest addictions isn’t good because I have about 8 different food boards on my personal account, and even more on the account for the blog (while I’m talking about it, go check it out here!); which leads me to constantly thinking about food. But If I want to take this whole blogging thing to the next level, I need to commit more time and effort to thinking about dishes to try. So that’s my excuse for a Pinterest addiction.

I really am finding good recipes from Pinterest, and sometimes there are recipe trends, and sometimes I’ll hop on board with the trends. But sometimes I’ll adapt two or three versions of the trend recipes and make my own.

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Such is the case with the “Garlic Cheese Crescent Roll-Ups with Herbs and Parmesan and Sometimes Other Things too.” If you have browsed Pinterest at all during the last month you probably saw one of these recipes. I did too! And so here I am posting about how I made my version, and why it’s the best of all of the variations on the web.

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What you need:

1 tube of crescent rolls

4 mozzarella cheese sticks halved (we like Italia brand, it’s mozzarella string cheese but tastes like real mozzarella)

1 package of pepperoni

3 tablespoons butter

1 teaspoon minced garlic

parmesan to taste

oregano to taste

To start, open the tube of crescent rolls carefully (but really, don’t hurt yourself). Separate the eight, and lay them them out facing the same direction.

Place the halved cheese sticks at the wide end of each crescent roll.

Lay a layer of pepperoni on each crescent, leaving an inch and a half at the narrow end of each. This will take about five or six pieces of pepperoni for each roll-up, depending on the size of the pepperoni.

Roll the crescents up, starting at the side with the cheese, and making sure at the narrow side to seal the ends.

Put the roll-ups on a baking sheet, don’t worry about greasing it.

Met the butter in the microwave, add the garlic and a sprinkle of oregano. Top each roll-up with this delicious mixture. Sprinkle each with grated parmesan.

Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Let cool for a couple of minutes and serve with pizza sauce or ranch or whatever your heart desires.

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These are so easy to make, I’m going to have to keep them in mind once I’m back at school. I normally have string cheese in my fridge, and crescent rolls are easy to buy at any grocery store. They aren’t microwavable, but they can be done in the community kitchen in a dorm rather easily.

Bruschetta

When the time comes to admit that eat way too many carbs, you can be sad, but that time is not today. I don’t mean to make light of the situation that you may encounter with the negatives of high glycemic index foods, but it’s okay to eat bread once in a while.

This is the best way to do it other than eating it straight off the loaf._MG_7246

Bruschetta is the bomb. There are a bunch of different views on what’s the “right way” of making it, but my opinion is that the right way is the way that makes you happy and you are comfortable with. Some like garlic, some don’t (if that’s your stance, I’m sorry but your opinion is wrong), some think that you should have some balsamic reduction with it, and some people think that you should construct it before you serve it while others believe that you should let those that are eating it pile the tomatoes at their own discretion. If you want to see just how different people do things, google bruschetta and see all the variations, from Alton Brown to Ree Drummond and many others in between.

Personally I just like bread and garlic but if there are tomatoes, basil, or balsamic on there too, I’m just that much more excited. So here’s how it went down on Wednesday. (By the way, it was really nice outside and I was able to get some good pictures with natural light because of this, too bad that it went downhill from there, I mean there’s snow around the state!)

To start, I minced up some fresh garlic and threw it in a bowl. Then I diced up some pretty little roma tomatoes, and threw them into the bowl as well. I ground some black pepper (not too much) straight in there too and sprinkled some grated parmesan to give it a little something special. Then I mixed it all together and let it sit while I toasted up some bread. However you toast bread, do it that way, in the oven, in a buttered skillet, under the broiler, in your toaster oven, on the grill, WHATEVER! I did it in the oven at 375 and kept my eyes on it to ensure that burning did not happen.

Once the bread is toasted to your liking, let it cool for a few moments and then get ready to top.

Since I did not have any basil in the tomatoes, I used pesto and got basil flavor there. If you are familiar with making pesto you can use your own, if not, you can but a jar from the grocery store and use that. We haven’t made pesto (I promise that I will, also humus because humus is beautiful) so we use stuff from a jar.

Spread some of the pesto onto each piece of bread then top it with the tomatoes and stuff. Serve to hungry parents, children, or even friends. They’ll like it, I promise._MG_7241

One thing to be mindful of though, is that the garlic that ends up in the tomato mixture is raw, so make sure that it’s cut small enough or if you are really scared of the garlic monster, saute it just a bit before you put it in with the tomatoes (obviously you should let it cool so that you don’t end up cooking the tomatoes too). Another option would be to roast some garlic and mush it up and mix that into the tomatoes, it will give it a nice sweet flavor, but it would still be fantastic.

I really want to eat more of it right now, but school is in the way of that.

Spinach Artichoke Mac & Cheese

Last night my mom and I were on our own again for dinner (yes, it was a supper bummer that she and my dad couldn’t spend Valentine’s Day together, but it happens, his schedule is crazy). We couldn’t go to Newbo or go out because it would have been crazy to try to go where hip young couples go, so we stayed in and made a warm, creamy pasta.

The title is misleading, there was to macaroni in this dish, it was penne. The whole thing was super grown up and would have been perfect for a date night, we definitely  enjoyed ourselves.

A while back I made Ree’s Spinach Artichoke dip, and fell in love with the stuff, so when I found this recipe I knew that I had to try it sometime. Except we messed up the directions, so I will tell you how we made it, and offer some advice on alternative ways of making and or serving it. I hate to say that someone’s directions are terrible, but they are and they will mislead you.

Start by cooking a box of penne pasta, making sure to salt the water enough. Set it aside once it’s done.

Then wilt some spinach or defrost the frozen spinach (either is fine, honestly). And chop up the canned artichoke hearts, make them pretty small. If you don’t want veggie hunks in your sauce, you can throw each into the food processor separately and puree them (just mix them into the sauce really well).

Make the topping thing, mix the cream cheese, half the spinach and artichokes, the parm, the onion, and half of the garlic, and put it in the oven for 15-20 minutes, until it just starts to get brown on top.

Start the sauce with a roux, make sure to not cook it too long or too short, you want it to just start to smell nutty but don’t let it burn. Then mix the milk in slowly, then the mustard and the cheeses.

Then mix the rest of the spinach, artichokes, and garlic into the cheese sauce. Then mix the pasta in, making sure to that the spinach isn’t in clumps or only on one side of the pan.

This is where I didn’t follow the instructions, I just scooped the oven stuff out of it’s pan and mixed it right into the pasta, and it was nice and creamy. If you want to be like the other recipe, you would scoop up the pasta, then top it with the oven dip. We didn’t do that though, and it still really tasted wonderful.

Another way of serving it would be to not ever put the oven stuff (I DON’T KNOW WHAT ELSE TO CALL IT!! I’m sorry.) in the oven and just set it aside until the sauce is made and pasta’d. Then you dish each serving into an oven-safe boul or ramakin, and then top each one with a little of the mix. Top with some bread crumbs or panko and pop it under the broiler untill the top gets melty and crispy.

That presentation sounds awesome, I’ll upload pictures if I ever get to that. I told my mom that I would make it again for my brother sometime, so I might do it that way when he is home next.

AHH! I keep forgetting to upload photos for this. I’m sorry, follow the link if you want to see stuff. So I just posted it the way that it is now, I’ll edit the pictures in soon.

Cheesy Pull-Apart Bread

Nothing better than a boatload of cheese on a garlicky hunk of bread for watching the big game, right?  RIGHT! It turned out looking like a football, too, so that’s pretty funny (if I may say so myself)._MG_6898 We were looking for things to make, that were pretty unhealthy and good food to eat while watching others burn calories and we found this recipe. I became excited about it quickly and once all the ingredients were assembled I had a hard time waiting to start. You will need several green onions, a couple cloves of garlic, some butter, some cheese (shredded or off the block), and the  loaf, of course._MG_6872

To start, chop op the green onion and mince the garlic. Set aside and take the time now to preheat the oven to 400._MG_6887

Now cut the bread into a grid system, they don’t have to be perfect squares, but they should be pieces that are easy to handle in one or two bites. Probably about half an inch thick should be good._MG_6890

Now melt that butter (about a quarter cup) and mix the onions and garlic into it._MG_6892

And pout this delicious mixture between the slices of the bread, evenly distributing it, making sure that you don’t leave too many hunks in one section, you should push them down into it farther, like a deep pit of flavor._MG_6893

You’ll wrap this baby up in that foil it’s sitting on and pop it into the oven for 10-15 minutes.

Once that time is passed, pop it out and get ready to stuff it with cheese._MG_6888_MG_6894

Now pop it back into the oven, uncovered, for about twenty minutes, enough to melt the cheese and crisp up whatever bread is still exposed._MG_6899

It should look supper yummy and smell fantastic. It will be gooey and pull apart all stringy-like.

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It will be hard to control yourself, but that’s okay, Lent is around the corner, you have time to heal.

I used a sourdough loaf for it, and those flavors turned out pretty good. You can use Italian or whatever and some other cheeses than cheddar and jack. Also, you can do peppers and spices in place of the onion and garlic, and turn it into some sort of taco pull-apart bread. The idea is actually pretty versatile.

I hope you enjoy it, it’s pretty simple, pretty yummy, and pretty cute. Enjoy (in moderation).

Quinoa Salad

Saturday was a day of firsts, first time seeing Les Mis, first time making quinoa, and…… Actually that was it for firsts, sorry. It was a normal day other than those things, but honestly, those two things were really different and I enjoyed them, so I thought I should tell you.

My mom and I were on our own Saturday, so we decided to make something new for dinner. We did the honey glazed salmon,  and this quinoa salad. The recipe calls for fresh mint and pears. We couldn’t find any fresh mint at Hy Vee. And I hate pears with a passion (don’t ask, just accept it). So we subbed dried mint for fresh and a couple of apples for the pears.

Other than those two things, we got some quinoa, some olive oil, some lemon juice, some garlic, some green onions, some oregano, and some feta cheese (I love the stuff, by the way, it’s the bomb).

You will need to cook the quinoa, two parts water to one part quinoa, for as long as the package says (we went about 9 minutes, it think). You should also rinse your quinoa in some cool water before you start to cook it so that it won’t be bitter.IMG_6922IMG_6923

While you cook the quinoa, cube the apples into bite-sized pieces, slice up the green onions, and mince the garlic.IMG_6930

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Make the dressing with the oil, some salt and pepper, the garlic, the lemon juice, the oregano, and the mint if you are using dried(if not, put it in with the green onions); and whisk it all together.IMG_6932

Once the quinoa has absorbed all the water, set it aside and let it cool (or not, and the feta will get a little melty and nice).IMG_6929

Mix everything together in a big bowl, making sure to distribute the dressing evenly and break up any clumps that may have formed.

Put it in the refrigerator to chill for a little while, while you finish making dinner, and serve when you are ready.IMG_6945

I honestly can say that I am happy with my first quinoa experience, the salad was pretty good. It is good to make ahead of time, and get one part of the meal out of the way. It would also be pretty easy to take it to a picnic or potluck, and might be a good way to shake those meals up.IMG_6944

I hope you can try this salad along with the salmon. They were both very yummy, but I don’t know if I actually believe that they belong together. that’s just my two cents.

Spice it Up

To be honest, I haven’t always been a fan of defrosting a chicken breasts, seasoning it and serving it with something else half-assed, and calling it dinner. Even if I cut the chicken into pieces and throw it into the rice it seems that more effort has been put into planning the meal and it tastes better. I know that’s not really the case, and I should learn how to deal with the chicken breasts, but I’m grumpy and I don’t want to change my ways.

However, last week we hit a rut and kind of had to figure out dinner on the fly. My mom recommended we do some chicken and mashed potatoes with a vegetable. And we did. But the mashed potatoes were the special ones (and made the whole vegetable issue a nonissue) and the chicken was nice and spicy.

I did a little searching and found this mix of spices (including: paprika, dried minced onion, dried minced garlic, cayenne pepper, dried oregano, dried basil, and white pepper) that I thought would fit our flavor preferences and got to gathering the stuff. It was only two of us, so I tried to cut things in half, but that was hard, so we just had extra seasoned chicken.

I started by mixing the spices together and realized that we didn’t have dried minced garlic, so I substituted a little garlic powder in. Here is where I wanted to change things up, but felt to lazy, so I didn’t. I could have chopped up a couple of tablespoons of onion and minced garlic and thrown it in to give it a fresh kick.

Also, instead of doing it as a dry rub, I mixed the canola oil right in with the seasonings and poured it over the chicken before it went into the pan.IMG_6916 The rest is simple, you cook the chicken until it is done, not turning it too much, but enough to make sure both sides are evenly cooked.

The cool thing about this is that it has lots of paprika, so once you cook it turns into a blackened coating.IMG_6920 But you can also mix the seasonings (without the oil) onto a batter for chicken strips to spice things up a bit.

I honestly think that this is a good go-to idea for dinner, it’s quick and easy, and we always have these things on hand. Plus it’s a good alternative to the boring chicken breasts that I hate so much.

It was a Grey Sort of Day

There are days where the weather is so stereotypically fall-like, you have no option but to make some sort of soup for dinner. Tuesday was one of these days, it was grey, windy, and was crisp. Everybody was in some sort of bad mood “because of the weather,” and it would have been the perfect day to sleep in all day.

Chili is wonderful on a day like that, but we had red chili just over a week ago, and so it wasn’t time to do that again. We needed something delicious and warm to eat, along the lines of chili, so we made a white chili. Except we didn’t have everything that we would need to complete it, so we made some adaptations.  It wasn’t as good as normal, but it was still tasty.

We found this recipe a few years ago when I was really wanting to try a white chili, but didn’t know of any good ones. My mom and I went to the Food Network website and started looking around. There was one that had a lot of onion and garlic, it seemed like it would be a good fit, because who doesn’t love onion and garlic?

Tuesday, though, we didn’t have fresh onion. It was a horrible realization, because we were set on having white chili and we knew it wasn’t going to be the same. We didn’t skip the onion, though. That would have been insane. We used dehydrated minced onion, so it still had the flavor, but obviously it fell a little short. The recipe also calls for shallots and roasted garlic (actually it has you roast it), but for the sake of time and resources, in the past we just added extra onion and garlic instead.

Also, we skip the spinach, it’s really not that important to the recipe. We have adapted this to our own tastes, and while we find spinach fine, it just seems to be a distraction to the chili.

When you make the chili, watch the temperatures that you use, you cook all of this stuff in the same pot except for the chicken, so you may need to back the heat off if you are changing pace.

You start out with the onion and garlic sauteing in the pan in some olive oil, make sure it’s not too much, it can mess things up later in the cooking process. You can not let this get too hot, it will cook the rest of the way once everything boils, but if you burn it now, there’s no going back. Then you make a roux with some flour, this is why we had to be careful about the oil, it needs to be very floury, almost seeming too dry. You deglaze the pan with some wine or chicken stock next, so it’s okay that it’s a little dry.

The rest of the chili is pretty straight forward, stock, chilies, seasoning, simmer for a while (no really, let this baby bubble away for a little while, you’ll thank me), add the cream and the rest of the seasoning, and serve.

Look at those bubbles.

When you decide to eat the chili, wait another minute before you put that spoon in your face. It’s hot. I’ve burned my mouth many a time because I was so excited to eat it. It’s worth the burn, but within the last two weeks before All State Auditions it might not be. I normally serve it with a soft cheese, like muenster (I had some left over from the sandwich I made Friday night) or jack.

This chili is beyond yummy, I obviously have had this before, so the is no question on whether I will be making it again or not. It will probably a little while before I can make it, but I definitely will do it soon. It’s a lot better with fresh onion and shallots, as well as when you through some more garlic in there.

It works really well when it’s reheated, the flavors have a little more time to meld together. It’s awesome even if you take it in a thermos to school for lunch. I promise, I do this so much. Probably because I love this chili so much.