Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Easy Weeknight String Cheese-Stuffed Manicotti

This is the quickest, easiest baked pasta dish that you'll probably ever make. {And, it only uses five ingredients.} With only about ten minutes of hands-on prep time {no need to even pre-boil the pasta}, you can toss this in the oven while you whip up a quick side salad and maybe get some garlic bread made up. It's perfect for busy weeknights and is an extremely kid-friendly dinner option.


This no-frills and no-fuss baked manicotti recipe really couldn't be easier. After a quick soak in hot water, the pasta shells get stuffed with string cheese before being baked off in a sea of good-quality, store-bought marinara sauce. A sprinkling of shredded mozzarella atop it all ensures an end result of bubbly, gooey, cheesy goodness amidst all that sauce - everything that a good pasta bake should be.

NOTE: Preparation of the pasta following my recipe directions yields al dente manicotti {still slightly firm}. If your family prefers very soft, almost mushy pasta, you may desire to boil noodles according to manicotti package instructions - ending the cooking a couple of minutes shy of the recommended time on package - prior to assembly of the dish.

Yields 4 - 5 servings.

Ingredients:

1 package manicotti (ten manicotti tubes are needed}
Non-stick spray
1 jar {20 - 22 ounces} good-quality marinara sauce
10 sticks mozzarella string cheese, unwrapped
1 1/2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese
Fresh basil

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.


Fill a 9 x 13" cake pan {or similar style pan} with very hot tap water about halfway.


Lay manicotti in water. Soak five minutes. Turn pasta over. Soak additional five minutes. {See NOTE above.}

Meanwhile, coat a 9 x 13" or similar baking dish with non-stick spray. Spread half of the sauce into the bottom of pan.


Stuff one string cheese into each manicotti. Arrange in a single layer in baking dish.


Top manicotti with remaining sauce. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese.


Cover tightly with foil. Bake for 25 - 35 minutes or until sauce is bubbly and cheese is thoroughly melted. Remove from oven, top with chopped basil and serve immediately.






Tuesday, January 09, 2018

Coconut Curry Soup with Roasted Chickpeas

When your husband of two decades declares that your first go-round of making Coconut Curry Soup produced "the best soup you've ever made" and you alone eat two large bowls in one sitting, there's a good chance that you've got a killer new soup recipe on your hands. {We won't even discuss the close-to-legit fight the two of us had over the remainder of soup in the bottom of the pot.} Seriously. We are in love. With soup. Smitten. {#soupfling}


Sooooo, in celebration of the new year, I bring you this healthful, vibrant, ethereal soup as my first post of 2018. It is - all at once - rich, delicate, hearty, dainty, subtly-spiced, broth-y, creamy and light. And, it's adorned with the most-glorious of toppings to kinda meld soup and salad into one dish. Perfection.

It's flavor profile and ingredient list is just enough off the beaten path - in terms of traditional soup for many of us - to be adventurous. But, it's simple enough to make and familiar enough to eat - especially for those already accustom to curry.

The soup takes just around thirty minutes to make from beginning to end. Be sure not to skip the roasted chickpeas, by the way. They shine nestled atop the soup among the other finishing touches.

I mentioned the soup's heavenly deliciousness. Luckily for all of us, it is, also, incredibly healthy. I consider it quite qualified to propel many of us through our January resolutions of healthier eating ... a lunch or dinner option that fits in nicely with our commitments to incorporate more fresh, wholesome dishes into our lives.

Now go make soup. And, may you all begin a love affair with this particular recipe as I have done.

Serves 4. {Easily doubled and does reheat quite well.}

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Holly Jolly Chocolate-Dipped Pretzel Rods

With just a handful of days to go until Christmas, many of us are shuffling to get everything done that needs done during this crazy time of the year. The shopping. The gift-wrapping. The decorating. The party-planning. The baking. {And, the list goes on.} So, it's helpful to have a few quick shortcuts in our arsenal. Perhaps the kids need something for a holiday class party. Or, you need some simple goodies to hand out to co-workers, neighbors, etc. ... these festive sweet and salty snacks just may be the perfect solution.


They utilize minimal ingredients and come together rather easily. No baking is required. They require that very little - if any - dishes be dirtied up. I, literally, did not dirty one dish while making these. {I used wax paper to lay the chocolate-dipped pretzels on. I used a plastic spoon to help coat the pretzels. And, the chocolate came packaged with a melting tray that popped right into the microwave as-is.} So, it's a pretty easy project. And, it's one, too, to get the kids or grandkids involved with.

{Just be ready to grab the broom to sweep up all those sprinkles that'll inevitably end up on the floor by the end of the task, however.}

Yields 30 pretzel rods.

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

Cranberry Chocolate Bread Pudding with Citrus Butter Sauce

I always delight in taking an old-school recipe and giving it a twist. Bread pudding is no exception. I have several different versions here on the blog like, my Pumpkin Bread Pudding with Apple Cider Butter Sauce, my Blueberry Vanilla Bean Bread Pudding and my Apple Pie Croissant Pudding with Caramel Butter Foam Drizzle. In this version, fresh cranberries, chunks of chocolate and fresh oranges come together to make the ultimate holiday bread pudding that can be served for breakfast, brunch or even as a dessert.


What I love most about bread pudding is that the options are pretty endless with regards to the type or types of bread used. I've made it with leftover raisin bread, a day-old French loaf, croissants and sandwich bread. I actually prefer a combination of something hearty and something soft. So, in this recipe, I used mostly day-old French bread cubes with a few slices of soft sandwich bread cubes.

To prepare this recipe, the bread cubes get placed in a greased baking dish. Then, you'll be making a quick custard in a mixing bowl. After sprinkling on fresh cranberries and chocolate chunks, you'll pour the custard over it all. Next, you'll want it to soak for twenty minutes, at least, but you can store this in the fridge at this point - covered - until you're ready to bake it. {I have kept it overnight in the refrigerator at this point for an easy pop-in-the-oven breakfast option.} After baking, the bread pudding will need to rest slightly while you whisk up a quick, buttery, orange-infused powdered sugar sauce. This will get poured over the bread pudding at the time of service.

The result is a perfectly-spiced, custard-y center with a slightly crisp top. The cranberries impart a slightly tart component while the chocolate lends just the right amount of sweetness - it's a beautiful flavor balance between the two. And, the citrus-y sauce packs a magical punch of brightness and sweetness to finish everything off.

Yields 6 - 8 servings.

Saturday, December 02, 2017

Cranberry and Double Chocolate Biscotti

I am a biscotti junkie. And, even though I have found some in cafes and stores that I do enjoy, I've come to really love making them at home. Besides turning out amazing every time, I love that I can play around with the add-ins when making my own batches.


I put off attempting to make biscotti from scratch at home for many years because I thought it would be a complicated process. Not so at all. The recipe is almost the same as making like, chocolate chip cookies. {Actually, I find making biscotti a little simpler, but that's probably because I get impatient while shuttling cookie sheets in and out of the oven when making cookies.} The dough will turn out a little thicker than regular cookie dough. But, the recipe, basically, calls for the same ingredients and mixing process. From there, the dough gets formed into "logs," baked a bit, removed from the oven, sliced and baked again. That's it.

Biscotti - by the way - are sweet Italian biscuits or cookies that get double-baked and are often served up with the intention of being dunked into beverages. They are typically oblong. Due to the double-baking, the end result is a crunchy, dry baked good that keeps well for a longer period of time than traditional soft-baked cookies.

I've chosen to bring together dried cranberries and mini chocolate chips in this version. Then, I've drizzled the cooled biscotti with melted chocolate. But, you can experiment with other mix-ins if you'd like ... chopped nuts, different varieties of chocolate, various dried fruits, etc. Also, I have used almond extract in place of vanilla extract in the past ... that is, also, really good.

Yields 28 - 32 biscotti {depending upon thickness of your dough and cookies}

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

Edible {Eggless} Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough

Making a big batch of chocolate chip cookies can be fun and rewarding. But, nibbling on the dough as you make your way through the cookie-making {and baking} process is sometimes the best part. {Am I right?}


For those who relish the occasional finger lunge {or spoon plunge} into the raw cookie dough mixing bowl, you can get your fix whenever the craving hits with this super easy, quick recipe.

With just a handful of basic pantry ingredients, you can whip up raw chocolate chip cookie dough that is just enough for one {or two - if you are up for sharing} servings. And, it is safe to eat because no eggs are used. All that's needed is toasted flour, a few other pantry staples, a little butter and a sprinkling of chocolate chips. And, just like magic - the perfect portion of cookie dough is ready just for you.

NOTE:  Toasting the flour prior to making the dough not only helps alleviate the possibility of e.coli, but it, also, contributes to a better-tasting end product. Furthermore, blending the raw dough together while the flour is just warm out of the oven helps with the overall texture of the dough. With no eggs present, the dough benefits from the warm flour as it helps slightly "cream" the butter together better with the sugars.

Yields 1 - 2 individual servings of edible, raw cookie dough for snacking.

Friday, November 17, 2017

Apple and Pear Crisp

If you're looking for a quick-to-assemble dessert that celebrates simple, seasonal ingredients, making an Apple and Pear Crisp just might be right up your alley. With some basic pantry ingredients {and some fruit, of course} and a tiny bit of prep time {mostly spent peeling and cutting the fruit}, you'll have this in the oven in a jiffy. All that'll be left to do is to sit back and enjoy the most tantalizing of aromas filling your kitchen. Like, seriously ... intoxicating. The end result is a slightly toothsome, buttery oat topping that bakes and bubbles up nestled among the nooks and crannies of tender slices of caramel-y, perfectly-spiced fruit. C'mon now. This is pretty much one of the most-comforting, old-school desserts on the planet.


Of course, any top-notch crisp must have a scoop of vanilla ice cream or a dollop of whipped cream on top before digging in. {That's a given in my book.} The crisp can be served hot, warm or cold - whatever you prefer. And, I even give permission to enjoy any leftovers the next morning for breakfast. It's fruit and oats - breakfast staples, right?

Yields 6 servings.

Saturday, October 28, 2017

Maple Dijon Hasselback Butternut Squash

Celebrate the beauty, seasonality and deliciousness of butternut squash by making this unique, fun recipe. Hasselback Butternut Squash is both fabulous in taste and a total show-stopper in presentation. The flavors of maple syrup and Dijon marry together in a herb-y glaze that undeniably compliments the roasted shingles of this slightly sweet orange-hued beauty. This is a side dish that will shine served next to a baked ham or roasted turkey. But, it's, also, enjoyable as a main dish served with a salad for a simple fall or winter dinner.


I am not going to lie to you, however. Preparation here is a bit of a time and effort investment, but is definitely worth it.

First the squash will need cut in half lengthwise. Then, you'll need to scoop out the pulp and seeds. Next, the two halves will need peeled.

Peeling a butternut squash is not the easiest task in the world. But, it is totally doable and totally worth the effort. It took me about ten minutes to peel mine. It pays to be sure to have sharp blades on your peeler. {I tried two different ones that I had. One was newer and so much easier to use.}

Following the peeling, the two halves will need to be popped into the oven for about twenty minutes just to start to soften the flesh so that it is easy to slice through. Please do not attempt to make your tiny cuts {shingles} while the squash is completely raw. Very risky and almost impossible.

After slicing, you'll be brushing on a glaze a few different times before and during the roasting process. And, at the end, you'll top the squash with chopped pecans just before hiking the oven temp up to give everything one last blast of really high heat.

Note that if your squash is super large {like mine}, you should be able to get four-to-six servings out of it so long as you're serving it as a side dish and not a main dish. If your squash is petite, you're probably looking at two-to-four servings.

Thursday, October 26, 2017

Vegetarian Cauliflower Rice Taco Salad

I have been eating mostly vegetarian for over a year now. I would say that I am vegetarian probably ninety percent of the time. I still use chicken stock in many of my soups. I occasionally dribble a little gravy over my mashed potatoes when I make a big Sunday dinner for the family. And, being a food blogger means that I taste all of the dishes that I make while testing recipes - meat or otherwise. But, I never really sit down and eat an actual "meat forward" meal very often. One thing I have missed terribly is traditional tacos, taco salads and burritos. That was until I started making tacos with cauliflower rice.


It changed my life. Seriously. I can enjoy tacos again ... tacos that actually taste as if regular seasoned ground beef is included. Like, cauliflower rice seasoned with taco seasoning is amazing, guys. And, it tastes like, well ... taco meat. I will admit I was hesitant even as it was cooked up and ready in the pan. When I tasted it, I thought that it tasted like cauliflower rice cooked up with taco seasoning. But, get it in a taco or taco salad with all of the fixings ... mind blown.

I feel like a whole new world opened up to me with this concept. Frozen cauliflower rice may scare some of you. Please don't let it. Even my ten-year old daughter who despises cooked cauliflower said that it felt as if she was eating regular taco meat. (That's huge.)

For this post, I've utilized the cauliflower rice taco "meat" in a taco salad. But, it works just as great in regular tacos or loaded burritos. When we tried it in tacos, we definitely agreed that the one notable difference between cauliflower rice versus ground beef is the lack of fat/grease. But, once sour cream and/or guacamole was added into the taco, that void was totally filled. So, I would recommend the inclusion of one or the other (or both).

Yields 4 servings.

Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Soup with Parmesan Croutons

I often say that I could live on salads during the summer months and on soup during the chilly months {with maybe a casserole thrown in every now and then for good measure}. I've shared with you an abundance of soup recipes over the past five years here on Joyously Domestic. Recently, I posted a collection of Fourteen Tantalizing and Comforting Soup Recipes and it took off like wildfire here on the blog and on social media. So, I know I'm not alone in my adoration of soup.


Now, with that said, I understand that not everyone particularly digs cauliflower. But, even if you insist that it is the evilest of vegetables, I think you may be a bit surprised at just how amazing it is roasted and spun into a creamy soup. Seriously.

Just the roasted cauliflower alone almost did me in. I had to restrain myself from eating half of the batch when it came out of the oven ... before the soup-making process had really even gotten off of the ground. {I'll definitely have to randomly roast up a slew of cauliflower florets more often just for snacking purposes. For sure.}

The fabulous news about this soup? It is quite healthful. Can you believe the recipe has ZERO butter, milk or cream? It's, basically, a combo of cauliflower, garlic and chicken stock with a few seasoning components. {And, if you really wanna be healthy, I guess one could omit the croutons. But, I would not recommend it, friends.}

NOTE:  Know that the recipe as written only yields four smaller-sized servings. {This soup isn't necessarily one that a big, whopping bowl is needed at one sitting as it's somewhat decadent and rich in taste and texture. It's a pretty easy recipe to double, however, to feed a larger crowd if needed.

Yields 4 servings.