Sorry!

I don’t even know if anyone visits my blog anymore, but if you do I promise to have something for you to read soon!  I have a few posts that I’m working on, including a Thanksgiving recap post.  I hope to get back to regularly posting 2-3 {or more!} times a week starting in December.  The month of November was just really busy for us – our wedding anniversary, Tim’s grandma’s 90th birthday celebration that turned into a long weekend out of town, hosting Thanksgiving, etc….it all took me away from the blog.  Anyway, thanks for reading if you are still out there!

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

Strawberry Rhubarb Tart

Heavily adapted from:  Good Things Catered
Makes 6 small tarts {I made one 10″ tart}

I used my go-to pie dough for the crust, but here’s Katie’s dough recipe if you need it:

Ingredients for the Crust:

1 c. plus 2 Tbsp all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/8 c. granulated sugar
8 Tbsp cold unsalted butter, cu into pieces
3-6 Tbsp ice water

Ingredients for the filling:
1 1/2 c. diced fresh rhubarb stalks
2 1/2 c. diced fresh hulled strawberries
1 and 1/4 c. sugar, divided
1 tsp lemon juice
1/8 c. cornstarch
very small pinch of salt

Directions for making the dough:
-In bowl of food processor, combine flour, salt and sugar.
-Pulse to combine and add butter pieces.
-Pulse until butter is incorporated and no bigger pieces than size of a small pea, about 10 pulses.
-Slowly add ice water, pulsing until mixture just comes together.
-Turn pastry dough out onto prepared surface and pat into disk shape.
-Wrap dough in plastic wrap and place in fridge to chill for 1 hour.

Directions for the filling:

-Meanwhile, combine diced rhubarb and strawberries with 1/2 cup granulated sugar and place into colander over bowl to drain for 1 hour. (This step is very important or you will have a soupy mess of a tart once you bake).
-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and prepare small tart pans.
-On prepared surface, roll out pastry dough, cut into large rounds and line tart pans.
-Place pastry lined pans onto a large baking sheet and place into freezer while you prepare the filling.
-Toss colander to remove extra moisture and place into clean bowl.
-Add remaining ingredients and toss to combine.
-Remove baking sheet from freezer, fill with strawberry rhubarb mixture and place into oven to bake.
-Bake until edges of pastry are golden in color and filling is cooked through, about 50 minutes.
-If desired, cute strawberry shapes with remaining pastry, prick with fork, brush with egg wash and place into oven to bake until golden in color (about 15 minutes).
-When finished baking, remove from oven and let cool completely before serving (the filling will set once cooled).
-When just warm, top with decorative pastry dough, if desired.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

This meal was heavenly!  It really hit the spot for us on a chilly fall night.  I absolutely loved it and will dream about when I can make it again!  Although it is a very common meal, I had never made a version where the meatballs are cooked right in the sauce.    It was definitely worth the extra time too.

Spaghetti and Meatballs

Source:  adapted from Brown Eyed Baker, also seen at Annie’s Eats

Ingredients:

For the sauce:

2 tbsp. olive oil

1 large yellow onion, chopped {I used a white onion}

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 (28 oz.) can tomato puree {I used whole tomatoes}

1 (28 oz.) can tomato sauce

1 small can of tomato paste

2 tsp. dried parsley

1 tsp. dried basil

1/2 tsp. dried oregano

1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes or to taste

1 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp freshly cracked black pepper

2 tbsp. sugar

1/2 cup of water (or more)

For the meatballs:

1/2 cup bread crumbs, divided

1/4 cup milk

1 egg, lightly beaten

1 tsp. dried parsley

1/2 cup grated Romano cheese {I used Parm}

1 clove garlic, minced

1/4 tsp. garlic powder

1/4 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. cracked black pepper

1 lb. lean ground beef

For serving:
Freshly cooked spaghetti
Shredded Parmesan cheese
Minced fresh basil

Directions:
To make the sauce, heat the olive oil in a large stockpot or Dutch oven over medium heat.  Add the onion to the pot and saute until tender, 5-8 minutes.  Add the garlic and saute until fragrant, stirring, about 1 minute.  Add the tomatoes, paste, tomato sauce, parsley, basil, oregano, salt and sugar.  Add water to thin the sauce out to your desired consistency.  Bring to a boil, then lower the heat to a simmer.  Let simmer for as long as possible {I went with about 1 hour}.  Since I used canned whole tomatoes, I needed to puree my sauce with my immersion blender right before adding the meatballs.

To make the meatballs, in a medium mixing bowl combine 1/4 cup of the bread crumbs with the milk.  Let the bread crumbs soak for 10 minutes.  Add the remaining ingredients to the bowl and mix thoroughly.  Form the mixture into meatballs {I had 21 meatballs).  Add the meatballs to the simmering sauce about 45 minutes before the sauce will be finished cooking.  Cover and let simmer until the meatballs are cooked through, about 45 minutes.

So, my sauce simmered for 1 hour before I added the meatballs and then another 45 minutes with the meatballs.

Transfer freshly cooked pasta to serving dishes.  Top each serving with sauce and meatballs.  Garnish with shredded Parmesan and fresh basil, if desired.

Peanut Butter Fingers

Peanut Butter Fingers

Source:  Amish Friends Vol 2 Cookbook, page 71

Ingredients:

1/2 cup butter, soft

1/2 cup white sugar

1/2 cup brown sugar

1 egg

1/3 cup peanut butter

1/2 tsp baking soda

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp vanilla

1 cup rolled oats

1 cup flour

6 oz chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Cream butter and sugars.  Blend in egg and peanut butter.  Add soda, salt, vanilla, flour, and oats.  Mix well then press into pan.  Bake in a greased 9×13-inch pan for 20-25 minutes.  Sprinkle chocolate chips over the top while hot, place back in the oven (turned off) for a minute or less.   Spread the melted chocolate with a spatula.  Cool.  Frost with peanut butter frosting.  Cut into bars, or “fingers”, for serving.

Peanut Butter Frosting:

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/4 cup peanut butter

2-4 tablespoons milk.

Combine all, stirring the milk in until it reaches the desired spreading consistency.

Taco Stuffed Shells

I was planning on making my Beef Taco Bake one night, but at the very last second I decided to use pasta shells instead of hard tacos shells.  It was a good decision!  But, I totally confused Tim.  He had asked earlier in the day what was for dinner and I told him the taco bake and when I served him the stuffed shells, he was very confused.  Anyway, we enjoyed them very much and I stashed 1/2 in the freezer for a night when I’m short on time.

Just a note about freezing meals that is probably common knowledge already but oh well.  Cover the dish with plastic wrap and write the date, item name, and baking directions directly on the plastic wrap with a sharpie, then cover with a layer of foil and place in the freezer.  That way, the directions are on the meal and you don’t have to guess about the baking instructions in a few months when you (or your husband 😉 ) pull it out to prepare for the night.

Just one note on something I’ll change next time.  I thought it could have been just a little saucier, so I’ll add some salsa (maybe 1/2 cup) to the mixture before stuffing the shells next time.

Taco Stuffed Shells

Ingredients:

1 can refried beans

1 can whole black beans

1 tablespoon hot sauce

1 small onion, chopped

2 jalapeno peppers, minced – optional (can sub one green bell pepper)

2 cloves of garlic, minced

1 can Mexi-corn, drained

1/2 can black olives, drained and coarsely chopped

1 pack (1/4 cup) taco seasoning mix & water that it calls for

1 pound lean ground beef

1 package large pasta shells

3 cups shredded Mexican cheese blend, divided

For serving:

lettuce

sour cream

scallions

salsa

Directions:

1.  Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 375 degrees.  Combine refried beans, black beans, and hot sauce in a bowl.  Spread evenly in two 8 or 9- inch square baking dishes (0ne for now and one for the freezer).  Sprinkle with 1/2 cup cheese per baking dish.

2. Cook pasta.

3. Meanwhile, cook beef in large skillet until no longer pink with onion, peppers, and garlic.  Pour off fat.  Then stir in taco seasoning and water.  Simmer over low heat until thickened.  Then stir in Mexi-corn and olives and turn off the heat.

4. Spoon the beef mixture into the cooked and drained pasta.  Arrange in the baking dishes.  Cover with with foil, and bake until bubbling, about 20 minutes.  Remove foil, top with remaining cheese, and bake another 5 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Sprinkle with scallions and/or shredded lettuce and serve with sour cream on the side.