Monday, January 28, 2013

Spinach Pasta Bake w/Chicken or Sausage

This might be in Hunter's top 5 (in fact, I am sure it is).  My friend, Kristen, gave me this recipe and I am forever grateful.  You can prepare it ahead of time.  AND it freezes terrific.

8 oz. cooked penne pasta (or pasta of your choice)
1 T. olive oil
1 cup finely chopped, sautéed onion (medium size)
1 (10-oz.) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed
1/2 lb chicken OR 3 cups sausage*
2 (14.5-oz.) cans Italian-style diced tomatoes
1 (8-oz.) container chìve-and-onion cream cheese
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1.5 cups (6 oz.) shredded mozzarella cheese

*You can use chicken or sausage (or both).  We love it either way.  It depends if we've had chicken 3 days in a row (like we've had).  You can tell sausage was used in the pictures.


I typically keep out a large mixing bowl.  When the ingredients are prepped I add them to the bowl.  Mixing in the bowl before adding to the baking dish makes for a prettier presentation but definitely not necessary.  (You can mix in serving dish.)

Cook the pasta according to the directions.

Start to thaw the spinach in the microwave.  I have started to use a potato ricer to squeeze out the moisture and it works quite well.  I have always toyed with using fresh spinach - I am sure you can if you heat it on the stove a few minutes to get it to wilt.  Thawing frozen spinach IS my least favorite prep. 

Saute the onions in the tablespoon of olive oil and set aside.

Using the same pan, brown the sausage.

Drain the spinach.

Add the chive and onion cream cheese, mozzarella cheese, and tomatoes to the spinach, pasta, sausage and onions.  Make sure to stir in the cream cheese with the warm ingredients so it melts and mixes easily. 
This is an old picture of Hunter at Leadville circa 2011?  I had to use it since I rarely get pics of my assistant.
Bake, covered, at 375° for 30 minutes.

Uncover and bake 10 additional minutes or until bubbly.

It makes around 6 servings.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Krispy Kreme - a year in the making

We (Julie, Lance and I) have been talking "doughnuts" since before Julie and Lance moved. This weekend we finally got the chance to make some (or rather a few dozen).  Of course we could not pass up the opportunity to try a Krispy Kreme copycat recipe.  With 4.5 stars and 58 reviews, we thought the recipe below was a solid choice and agreed it is a keeper!

Krispy Kreme Copycat Doughnut Recipe
2 (1/4 ounce) packages yeast
1/4 cup water (105-115)
1 1/2 cups lukewarm milk (scalded, then cooled)
1/2 cup sugar
1 teaspoon salt
2 eggs
1/3 cup shortening
5 cups all-purpose flour
canola oil (we used vegetable and it was just fine)

Clear Glaze
1/3 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
1/2 cup tablespoons hot water

Chocolate frosting
1/3 cup butter
2 cups powdered sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla
4 -6 tablespoons hot water
4 ounces milk chocolate chips or 4 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips


We started out with the dough much like any dough you have made before.  Dissolve the yeast in the warm water in a 2.5 qt bowl.  Then add the milk, sugar, salt, eggs, shortening and 2 cups of flour.  Beat on med speed for 2 minutes stopping to scrape the bowl.  Then mix in the remaining 3 cups of flour and beat until well mixed.  Cover and let rise for about an hour.  This is how ours looked.  Their oven has a bread setting.  I find at my house i turn on the warm setting for a couple minute and place the dough inside covered with a dish towel.  Even better, if the oven is pretty warm for cooking, I have luck just placing it on the stove covered with a dish towel.  They tell you dough is done when you make an indention and it does not disappear (see Lance's thumb print below).

Roll it out to approximately 1/2 inch thick. We could have possibly gone thicker than you see in pictures.

We used a biscuit cutter in the largest and smallest size to make the shapes.  I have to say, the actual doughnut holes were our favorite (and the most of what I devoured).  They rise so easily.

The below picture is us waiting for them to double in size the second time.  It took about 45 minutes (or possibly more).  It takes some time and makes waiting for breakfast a little bit challenging.

Heat the oil to 350 degrees!

Here are the first couple holes we made.  Using a slotted spoon helps them drain before they are placed on the grate.

I also liked to document how Lance used skewers to flip the doughnuts.  I liked this idea.

Of course we had a fan cub nearby....

This is the glaze (very simple).  Dunk the fried doughnuts.

Then allow them to set (if you can wait that long) or eat them as fast as you can make them, which is what we did.

According to this picture, they are keepers.

Julie tested with some maple syrup, nutella and sprinkles.  It is easy to add lib.

Last but not least I have to show you a picture of our breakfast plate.  These mugs are made in Alabama and quite appropriate considering there is a dentist in the house!

We agree the recipe is a keeper (we will be rating it a 5 star) and one we will make again!