Cooking with Katie


Florentine Chicken Pasta

This is the first blog post I’ve written in over two months, and I have to say that I can’t believe it’s been this long!!!! I’ve been so busy with school, dance competitions, drill team, babysitting, play performances, and a million other things that I haven’t had time to cook! But, now that summer is finally here, I’ll be cooking and posting a lot more often!!!! And what better dish to start back again with than this yummy summer pasta!?! It’s so light and healthy that you won’t feel guilty about having fourths of it, and it’s just in time to help you get back in shape for bikini season. :) Made with garden fresh tomatoes, and wholesome spinach, this dish is a winner, winner, chicken pasta dinner!

Chicken Florentine Pasta (The Pioneer Woman)

  • 1 pound Penne
  • 4 whole Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breast
  • Salt And Pepper, to taste
  • 2 Tablespoons Butter
  • 2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 4 cloves Garlic, Minced
  • 3/4 cups Dry White Wine
  • 3/4 cups Low-sodium Broth, More If Needed
  • 1 bag Baby Spinach
  • 2 cups Grape Tomatoes, Halved Lengthwise
  • 4 ounces, weight Parmesan Cheese, Shaved With Vegetable Peeler

Cook pasta according to package directions in lightly salted water. Drain and set aside.

Cut chicken breasts into chunks and sprinkle on salt and pepper.

Heat butter and olive oil over high heat in a large skillet. Add chicken chunks in a single layer and do not stir for a minute or two in order to allow the chicken to brown on the first side. Turn the chicken and brown on the other side. Cook until done, then remove chicken from the skillet.

Turn heat to medium. Add garlic and quickly stir to avoid burning. After about 30 seconds, pour in wine and broth, stirring to deglaze the pan. Allow the liquid to bubble up, then continue cooking until it’s reduced by at least half (most of the surface of the liquid should be bubbling at this point.)

Turn off the heat. Add spinach, tomatoes, chicken, and cooked pasta to the skillet. Toss to combine; the spinach will wilt as you toss everything. Add plenty of Parmesan shavings and toss to combine.

Serve with extra Parmesan shavings.


My Favorite Salad Dressing

I know I just posted a salad recipe a few days ago, but I’m gonna post another one because I absolutely can’t wait to tell you about this salad dressing. I promise, it will change your life and the way you feel about salads FOREVER!

I recently discovered this salad dressing called Brianna’s Home Style Blush Wine Vinaigrette. It’s this kind of sweet, tangy, strawberry-ish tasting concoction that is unbelievably to die for on top of salads. I love to eat it just plain on top of some mixed greens, but you could also add tuna, nuts, fruit, cheese, or any other veggies to a salad with this and it would still be yummy. It’s also really good drizzled on fresh strawberries.

You can find this at Walmart, Target, Safeway, Whole Foods, or any other grocery store and it has a big strawberry on it. I think they have a couple other different flavors, too, but the Blush Wine is mine and my family’s favorite. Give it a try, and let me know if you liked, hated it, found another flavor that was good, or have a different favorite dressing. Enjoy!


Tip: How to Make Homemade Taco Shells

Tacos are already pretty good, but they’re even better when you make your own hard, crunchy shells. It’s so easy to do, too, and it gives you a sense of pride knowing that you did something not a lot of people do. ;)

Start by laying a corn tortilla down flat in a skillet with about a 1/4-1/2 inch of hot oil in the bottom.

Turn it around a few times to get it crisp on both sides. You don’t want it to be completely crispy, just a little brown and stiff.

 Keep the crispiest side face up and bend the tortilla in half to form the shell-shape.

Once that side is crispy, flip it over to the other side to get that crispy, too.

Then as they  finish cooking, stack them up on a papertowl-lined plate to let the excess oil drain off of them and keep the other ones warm.

Now you can stuff them with whatever you want, beef, fish, pork, whatever floats your boat. Try this fun technique out and I promise you’ll never go back to the store-bought shells!


S’mores Truffles

Talk about a decadent dessert! These little chocolate truffles melt in your mouth and are a super fun way to get your kids involved in the kitchen. They’re as fun to make as they are to eat!


Truffles are really easy to make and, obviously, so delicious! You can make so many different type of truffles using this basic recipe from Pioneer Woman, and then stuff, dip, or roll them in whatever you want. The possibilities are endless!

S’mores Truffles (Truffle Recipe by The Pioneer Woman)

  • 8 oz. unsweetened chocolate
  • 8 oz. semisweet chocolate
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/2-1 c Marshmallow Fluff
  • 1/4 c Graham Cracker Crumbs 

Combine the chocolate and condensed milk in a double boiler.

Melt it until it’s just combined.

Before you put the bowl in the fridge, put it in a bigger bowl full of ice to cool down the bowl, otherwise it’ll crack in the fridge. Once the bowl is cool, put it in the fridge to let it harden.


Then, once the chocolate has hardened, scoop out little balls with a mini ice cream scoop and roll them between your hands. Put them back in the fridge until you’re ready to dip them.

Then combine the marshmallow fluff and a tbsp. of butter in a double boiler and melt it over medium heat until….

…it’s nice and smooth. Then take the truffles out of the fridge, and dip them in the marshmallow mixture. Dip the marshmallow part into a plate of graham cracker crumbs to coat them after. Enjoy!


Greek Salad

Whenever someone says “salad”, I always imagine people are thinking, “Oh great, what kind of boring salad am I going to be eating this time?” But salads don’t have to be boring, especially if they’re full of different textures and flavors. They also don’t have to be complicated, and are a great way to use up your leftovers. That’s how I came up with this salad, I used some left over ingredients from a salad we had had a few days ago, and I used a couple of ingredients that I always have on hand. It was a huge hit and so easy to throw together and I’m sure you’re family will love it, too!

Greek Salad
-Mixed Greens
-Sun dried Tomatoes, chopped
-Calamata Olives, halved
-Feta Cheese
-Cucumber, sliced
-Roasted Red Peppers, sliced
-Lemon juice (1 lemon)
-Shallot, diced
-Olive oil (2-3 tbsp.)
-Salt and pepper
-Sugar (1-2 tsp.)

Combine the lemon juice, olive oil, salt and pepper, shallot, and sugar to make the dressing. Just keep tasting it to adjust it to your likings. Then combine all the other ingredients in a big bowl and toss with the dressing. Enjoy!


Gardening Tips! Brussels Sprouts

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I’ve decided to start something new on my blog, Gardening Tips! Last spring, my family and I thought it would be fun to start a garden in our backyard, and we grew so many delicious fruits and veggies. So I thought that with the spring season coming up, I would start sharing some tips and tricks to having a vegetable garden. First up, our Brussel Sprout Experience!

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This is a Brussel sprout plant. We let ours get a little out of control and didn’t pick the ones at the bottom soon enough, though. To have an even more healthy and productive plant, tie them up to stakes so that they stand up tall and check on them regularly to pick off the ones growing at the bottom. They probably won’t be good to eat, but you’ll want to pick them off anyway.

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These sprouts are actually growing new brussels sprout plants right now, which is the outcome of us not picking them soon enough. :) This is good for this spring, though, because we’ll have new plants!

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These brussels sprouts are not good to eat!

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These are the ones you want to eat!

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Just use a knife to cut them away from the stem and then give them a good rinse once you get inside!

My mom just steamed these brussels sprouts and we always eat them by dipping them in vinegar. I know it sounds weird, but that’s how my mom’s grandparents taught her and that’s the only you’ll ever get any of us kids to go near them! I’ll try to post more gardening tips these next few months,so enjoy!


Lemon Cranberry Cake

I made this cake to use up the sad little cranberries that have been sitting in our fridge since Christmas. I know, it’s pitiful isn’t it?!?!?! But, look at what a beautiful and TASTY cake they turned into! They really livend up with all the lemon and the sugar and became this tangy-sweet-tart-scrumptious bundt cake that reminded every one of the holidays!

Fresh cranberries might be kind of hard to find in stores now, so if you don’t have any lying around, you can always use frozen, thawed cranberries. Or, you could substitute the cranberries with blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, or even fruit jellies. Happy Baking!

Cranberry Lemon Cake (Food Network Magazine)

  • 3 1/4 sticks butter at room temperature (I know, it’s alot and this really is an indulgence cake!)
  • 3 c cake flour, sifted
  • 12 oz cranberries
  • 2 1/2 c sugar
  • 6 tbsp. milk
  • 4 eggs
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 2 tsp. vanilla
  • 2 tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1 1/2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/4 c sugar
  • 1/2 c lemon juice, plus 2 tbsp.
  • 1 1/2 c powdered sugar

Cube the butter and set it in a bowl at room temperature to soften.

Put the cranberries in a saucepan with 3/4 c sugar and let them cook over medium-high heat for about 15 min., or until they look like this. Let them cool.

Whisk together the eggs, egg yolks, milk, and vanilla in a bowl. Set aside.

Tip: When separating the eggs, put the egg whites in a little Tupperware container. Put a piece of tape on the lid and write “2 egg whites” on it so you know what they are, then put them in the freezer. The next time you need egg whites, just pull them out of the freezer, let them defrost and they’re ready to use! This also works for egg yolks, left over pie dough, and left over cookie dough.

Now, dump all the dry ingredients and the lemon zest in a bowl and give them a mix.

You’ll be able to see the little flecks of lemon zest in here….I love that!

Then, dump in the butter and…

…give it a mix until it looks like this.

Add in half of the wet ingredients and mix it all up.

It should look like this. Then add the rest of the wet ingredients in two parts and mix it until…

..it looks like this!

Pour 2/3 of the batter into a butter and floured bundt pan. Then spoon the cranberries on top of the batter. Make sure that the cranberries don’t touch the pan, otherwise they’ll stick! We don’t want that to happen!

Then, pour the rest of the batter on top of the cranberries and smooth it over.

Now, bake it at 350 degrees for 55-65 minutes.


Then, poke it with a skewer all over the bottom. Let it cool in the pan for 10 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine the 1/2 c sugar in the 1/2 c lemon juice (about 4-5 juicy lemons) in a saucepan and cook it until the sugar dissolves in the lemon juice. Pour it over the cake and let it soak in through the holes. Turn it out onto a cake stand and combine the remaining 2 tbsp. of lemon juice with the powdered sugar. Drizzle it over the cake with a fork and enjoy!


Christmas Pretzels

I promise, these are the easiest, fastest, most delicious Christmas cookies ever! They’re great to set out for your dinner guests tomorrow, and even better for a post-Christmas snack the rest of the week! Really all you have to do is melt some white chocolate almond bark (it doesn’t really have almonds in it!), drizzle it on some flat pretzel chips, and then sprinkle crushed candy canes on top. How hard was that?

You could also modify these to fit any season by using food coloring to color the white chocolate different colors for Valentine’s Day, Easter, the Fourth of July, or even Halloween. You could also add different colored sprinkles or candies to them to give them some pizzazz! Get creative and have fun with them! :) Happy Holidays everybody!


Peanut Blossoms

We love to give these cookies away as presents because they’re so easy to make and get ready, and they have a really long shelf life. And who wouldn’t want to get a good, home-made peanut butter and chocolate cookie?!?! Well, I guess if you’re allergic to peanuts, you wouldn’t like them…..Ooo….

Anyway, all of you who aren’t allergic to peanuts can enjoy these delicious cookies; and all of you who are can enjoy the peanut-free cookies I’ll post tomorrow! :) Make these with someone you love and then give them to someone you love even more! Happy Holidays!

Peanut Blossoms (Pillsbury)

  • 1 3/4 c flour
  • 1/2 c sugar
  • 1/2 c brown sugar
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 c shortening
  • 1/2 c peanut butter
  • 2 tbsp. milk
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • sugar
  • Hershey kisses

Heat oven to 375°F. In large bowl, combine flour, 1/2 cup sugar, brown sugar, baking soda, salt, shortening, peanut butter, milk, vanilla and egg; mix with electric mixer on low speed until stiff dough forms. 2 Shape dough into 1-inch balls; roll in sugar. Place 2 inches apart on ungreased cookie sheets. 3 Bake at 375°F. for 10 to 12 minutes or until golden brown. Immediately top each cookie with 1 milk chocolate candy, pressing down firmly so cookie cracks around edge; remove from cookie sheets.

Makes 36-48 cookies.


Black Bottom Cupcakes

These cupcakes are like little, choclate-y bundles of happiness! They’re so comforting and make you feel like you’re back in your grandma’s kitchen. Plus, who can resist that combination of chocolate and cream cheese? It’s so tangy and sweet at the same time and satisfies all of your holiday cravings. Happy holidays everybody! (P.S. For those of you keeping track, there’s only 5 days until Christmas. ;))

Black Bottoms

Cake:

  • 1 1/2 c flour
  • 1 c sugar
  • 5 tbsp. cocoa powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 c water
  • 1/3 c oil
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 tsp. vinegar

Filling:

  • 8 oz. cream cheese (softened)
  • 1/3 c sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1 c mini chocolate chips

Start by combining the dry ingredients for the cake.

Then add in the oil..

..and the water. The cocoa powder made the water turn brown…I don’t have dirty water. :) Stir all the ingredients together.

After the ingredients are combined, add the vanilla, baking soda, and vinegar.  The baking soda and vinegar make a cool little science experiment in your cupcakes. Mix that in as well.

Then, grab some cute Christmas cupcake liners with penguins on the bottom and line a mini muffin tin.

Fill the cupcakes up about 3/4 of the way full. Make sure to spill a little on the pan, just for good measure.

Then combine all the filling ingredients and put a little dollop on each cupcake. Bake them at 350 degrees for 25 minutes.

Makes 36 cupcakes.


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