Archive for March, 2011

The mushroom flavor that comes out in this pasta dish is outstanding. If you don’t know what Ricotta is, don’t be afraid. It’s just a cheese, and you can find it on the dairy isle. Usually it is by the sour cream and the yogurt in the same type of container. Ricotta is the cheese you will find in lasagna or ravioli. This recipe was exactly what I was looking for in a quick dinner that was easy to make and also inexpensive. Combine it with some fresh-baked croissants and some salad and you have a nice little gourmet meal. Not to mention that it requires white wine, and you can enjoy some of that while cooking.

Here’s the ingredients you will need:

  • 12oz rigatoni or penne pasta
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 small onion – finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup dry white wine
  • 3/4 pound cremini mushrooms or white mushrooms – trimmed and sliced
  • 1 cup ricotta
  • 4 teaspoons lemon juice
  • Shaved parmesan cheese

Put a large pot of water on high heat to boil. Once it starts to boil, add salt and the pasta and cook until al dente. The package might tell you how long that would be. When your pasta is done, reserve a cup of the pasta water before you drain the pasta. You will need it to make the sauce.

While your pasta is boiling, melt 1 tablespoon butter in a large skillet over medium heat and add the finely chopped onions. Your going to cook them for about 4 minutes until they start to soften up.  Then add the wine you measured out for the recipe. Not the wine you are drinking. Stir the onions and wine until the wine is almost evaporated. This should take about 5 minutes. Add your sliced mushrooms and season them with S&P. Stir the mushrooms into the remaining wine and continue to cook until the mushrooms start to brown, about 8 minutes. Remove the skillet from the heat and stir in a tablespoon of butter until melted. 







Add the mushroom mixture to the pot of pasta pasta that has been drained. Then add the ricotta and lemon juice. Stir all the ingredients until combined. Then slowly add the 1 cup pasta water while stirring until a thin sauce is created. You will use most, if not all of the pasta water.

Once you plate the pasta, top it off with the shaved parmesan cheese. Serve with croissants, garlic bread, or rolls, salad and any wine you have left. I found this recipe on the Martha Stewart iPhone app @everydayfood. If you don’t have it, you should try it out. Enjoy – @ChefMikeW



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I have to give big props to my co-worker Atoya for this idea. We were talking about food one day at work and she told me a story about a Cinnamon Roll French Toast breakfast she had on vacation one time. She said it was so good they had it every morning. Just the thought of cinnamon roll french toast had me thinking about making it all week. So this is what I made on Saturday morning.

There are a lot of French Toast recipes. If you have a favorite recipe, I highly recommend trying it with cinnamon rolls as the bread. This is the recipe I used on Saturday:

  • 3 large cinnamon rolls
  • 1 cup milk or half-and-half
  • 3 large eggs
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tablespoons butter

The first step is deciding on what cinnamon rolls you want to use. If you have the time and can make your own from scratch, then go for it. I didn’t have the time to make homemade, but I also didn’t want to use the cheap Pillsbury ones from the grocery store. I went to Panera Bread and bought three from their bakery.

Cut the cinnamon rolls in half with a serrated knife.

Prepare the French Toast mix by combining the eggs, half-and-half, honey, and salt. You might warm the honey a little in the microwave to make it easier to stir in. Once the egg yolks are broken and stirred in, put in the first cinnamon roll.

While your cinnamon rolls are soaking in the egg bath, heat a large skillet on medium heat. Add a tablespoon of butter and swirl until melted. Make sure you turn your cinnamon rolls so both sides are nice and soaked with the egg mixture before adding them to the skillet. When the pan is hot and the butter melted, add your cinnamon rolls.

Cook 3-4 minutes on both sides. The cinnamon rolls should brown slightly, especially on the cut side. You should try to only flip them one time. They will be hard to turn, because once they get hot, they will try to unravel. Add a tablespoon of butter in the pan before each cinnamon roll you make. Serve with powdered sugar and bananas or any kind of fruit. You can put syrup on these or not. Either way they are Awesome! – @ChefMikeW

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If you are on a diet then don’t read this. Two words to describe this recipe and you will understand – Paula Deen. I’m not actually 100% positive this is a Paula Deen recipe, but @seriouseats on my Twitter feed is definitely blaming the excessively unhealthy ingredients on her. BUT, it is sooo good. So who cares who’s recipe it is. I’m actually going to call them Kick Kack bars because up until the age of 16, my son actually thought that was the name of a Kit Kat candy bar. So here’s what you will need for the KICK KACK bar:

  • Club Crackers
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (not margarine)
  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 cup firmly packed dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup milk
  • 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1/2 cup semisweet chocolate chips
  • 1/2 cup butterscotch chips

Start with a 9X13 rectangular baking pan. Line the bottom with a single layer of club crackers. Make sure you buy the original flavor club crackers and don’t accidentally grab the garlic flavored. I sprayed the bottom of my baking pan with Pam. I wasn’t sure if it would stick or not, and my baking dish was not a non-stick pan. It worked out well for me, but the orignal recipe didn’t call for it.

Get a large saucepan and melt both sticks of butter over medium heat. Once they are melted, add the graham crackers, brown sugar, white sugar, and milk. Bring to a boil stirring constantly. Boil and stir for five minutes and then take it off the heat. Pour half of this mixture over the first layer of crackers. Smooth out with a spatula or the back of a spoon.

Arrange a second layer of crackers on top of the butter mixture. Pour the remaining butter mixture over the second layer of crackers, smooth out, and then arrange a third and final layer of crackers on top.

In a small or medium size saucepan, add the peanut butter, chocolate chips, and butterscotch chips and melt over medium-low heat, stirring constantly. Heat these ingredients until they get to a consistency where you feel you can spread it over the 3rd layer of crackers.

Spread the topping evenly over the top with a spatula or back of a spoon. Make sure the crackers all stay in place. Let it cool to room temperature, then cover and refrigerate for at least two hours. When you are ready to try your homemade Kick Kack bars, take them out and slice them into 2-inch bars. You should get about 30 bars. Enjoy – @ChefMikeW

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I like big skillets full of food!! They’re like pots of chili during football games. So when I read a recipe that says “use a large saucepan”, I know that’s what I’m gonna get. I found this one on my Twitter account. It was tweeted by @Real_Simple. I like to follow them because they always post quick easy recipes and if your busy like me, it’s nice to find a really good hearty recipe that you can make quickly, and have leftovers. This only took me about 30 minutes to make.

Here’s what you’re gonna need:

  • 1 cup long-grained white rice
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound italian sausage links (casings removed)
  • 2 medium onions
  • 1 28-ounce can fire-roasted tomatoes
  • 20 peeled and deveined shrimp
  • 1 cup frozen peas

There are a couple of decisions you will have to make with your ingredients. The main one being if you want to use sweet or hot italian sausage. This is totally up to you. If you don’t like spicy food, definitely go with the sweet sausage. If you want to add a little heat, then get the mild or hot italian sausage. If you like spicy food, but nobody else does – then use the sweet, and add red pepper flakes to your plate. On with the recipe…..

Make the rice according to the package. You could probably even use minute rice here. Just don’t use a flavored rice.

While your rice is cooking, heat the olive oil in “A Large Saucepan” over medium heat. Once the oil is heated, add your onions and sausage. As they cook, break up the sausage with a spoon and stir occasionally for about 10 minutes.





Once your sausage is browned and your onions have softened, then you add the rest of your ingredients. Start with the shrimp, then add the tomatoes (with the juice), then top with peas. Season all this with S&P and then stir together.

Simmer and stir occasionally until your shrimp are cooked through. Your sauce should thicken up during this time. This should take about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and serve over your rice – Enjoy! @ChefMikeW



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Sometimes I like to make a sweet even though I’m not much of a baker or dessert guy. In the back of the March 2011 issue of Everyday Food Magazine (@everydayfood) I found a recipe for Chewy Molasses Squares. So, since I’m not much of a baker, a dessert guy or not even a real fan of molasses, I decide I need to make this dessert. Maybe I’m just trying to get rid of some pantry items, but the picture in the magazine looked pretty good so I said what the heck.

Once they were made, I couldn’t help but notice how sweet they were. Especially since they are coated with powdered sugar. It’s a unique taste and I think they would taste different depending on the molasses you use. The recipe says to use “unsulfured molasses” because it has more of a pure sugar-cane taste. If you happen to be a fan of molasses, I would suggest using your favorite brand. Here’s what else you will need:

  • nonstick cooking spray
  • 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/3 cup unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 cup molasses – unsulfured
  • 4 large egg whites
  • 1/2 cup confectioners sugar

Preheat your oven to 350 and lightly spray a 8-inch square baking dish with the cooking spray.

In a small bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, and salt.

In a larger bowl use an electric mixer on medium-high to beat the butter and the sugar for 4 minutes until it is pale and fluffy. Switch the mixer to medium speed and add the molasses and egg whites and continue to beat until combined. Turn the mixer down to low speed and add the flour mixture and mix this until it is combined as well.

Transfer your batter to the 8-inch dish and smooth out the top. Bake 40-45 minutes until you can insert a toothpick and it comes out clean. Take it out of the oven and let it cool completely in the dish on top of a wire rack. Once cooled, you should be able to place a cutting board on top of it and flip it over leaving the cake on the cutting board. Cut the cake into 1 1/2 inch squares.

Store these squares in an airtight container until ready to serve. When ready to serve, use a small ziplock back with a few tablespoons of powdered sugar inside of it to toss 4-5 squares at a time until they are coated. These are awesome with a good cup of coffee.  @ChefMikeW

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I chose this recipe tonight solely on the 4 words that the recipe ended with. The recipe was in the March issue of the Rachael Ray magazine. I had some other recipes picked out in the same magazine, but when I saw the four mesmerizing words – I knew this was the one. What were those four words you ask? “Top with the bacon!” YES, that is how the recipe ended. Obviously this was the only choice for me to make tonight.

This is a super easy recipe. It says it serves 4, but after our family of 3 eating we had more than half of it left. Here are the ingredients that you will use. It’s really important that you always prep your ingredients before you start to cook. It makes the recipe easier to follow and your meal more enjoyable to cook.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 chopped onion

1 pound ground beef

4 slices of bacon (or more)

1 pound baby red-skinned potatoes – quartered

2 bell peppers (any color) – cut into thin strips

1 1/2 cups frozen peas

One 15-ounce can tomato sauce

One 12-ounce bag dried egg noodles

Get a large deep skillet and heat the olive oil on medium high. Cook the onion about 3 minutes until it becomes soft and then add your ground beef. For a lower fat meal, you could substitute ground turkey here. Season with S&P and cook 5-7 minutes. Once your meat is browned, transfer it to a bowl.  

Using the same skillet,  cook your bacon the way you like your bacon. If you like it kind of soft, cook it 3-4 minutes. If you like it crispy, cook it 5-7 minutes. It’s your call. When it’s to your liking, use a slotted spoon or tongs to remove the bacon onto a paper towel lined plate. Leave the grease in the pan.

 Add your potatoes to the bacon grease and stir to make sure they are completely coated. Cover your skillet and cook until the potatoes are tender. This should take about 8 minutes. You will have to keep a close eye and stir often so that your potatoes don’t burn in the bacon grease. After the 8 minutes, uncover and stir in your bell peppers. Cook an additional 8 minutes uncovered.


Once your bell peppers have softened up, add the ground beef mixture back to the skillet as well as the peas, tomato sauce, and 1 cup of water. Season with S&P andcook until the potatoes are tender – about 8-10 minutes.

During this time, make your egg noodles according to the package. Drain and then mix with your beef mixture. You could do this in your skillet if it is big enough or a big bowl. Spoon it onto some plates and dinner is ready!! Oh, and “Top with the bacon!”


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