Sunday, November 4, 2012

Friday Night Lounging

Happy weekend friends!  As I mentioned in my last post, Friday I had a "girls night in" plus Chris with our friend Asha.  We met Asha at Alumni Weekend at Miami, she happens to be a Columbus dweller so we've planned some fun get togethers since the summer when we all met.  We decided we wanted to make some dinner and relax in lounge clothes after long work weeks.  On the menu was stuffed shells with salad and s'mores cookies with ice cream for dessert....YUM!

Stuffed Shells

- jumbo pasta shells (I use anywhere between 10 and 20 shells depending on if I'm planning on extra leftovers, once made the shells can be frozen and reheated)
- 1 and 1/2 lbs. part skim or fat free ricotta cheese
- 1 lb. fresh mozzarella, diced
- 1/2 c. grated parmesan
- 1 c. shredded Asiago 
- 1/4 c. flat leaf parsley (I use a couple sprinkles of dried parsley if I don't have fresh on hand)
- 2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, chopped
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 (28 oz.) can crushed tomatoes
- salt and pepper
- 6 or 7 leaves of fresh basil, torn or shredded (when I don't have this on hand I use frozen or dried basil, about the same number of leaves)

- Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
- Bring a large pot of water to a boil, salt water and add pasta. Cook shells till softened but still undercooked at the center. Drain and cool.
- In a mixing bowl, combine ricotta, 1/2 of the diced mozzarella, parmesan, asigao and parsley, stir to combine.
- In a a small saucepot over medium heat add oil, garlic and onions. Saute onions and garlic 5 minutes.
- Add tomatoes and season sauce with salt and pepper. Simmer sauce 5 minutes and stir in basil leaves.
- Pour a little sauce into the bottom of a medium sized baking dish.
- Fill shells with rounded spoonfuls of cheese mixture and arrange them seam side down in baking dish.
- Top shells with remaining sauce and remaining mozzarella.
- Place shells in oven and cook 6 to 8 minutes to melt cheeses and bubble sauce.

I love this recipe because the sauce is easy and its not terribly time consuming so its an easy weeknight meal.  In the past if I  have leftover cheese mixture I've mixed it into mashed potatoes for some added creaminess.  Occasionally I make the sauce on its own to freeze for quick pasta dinner.

S'mores Cookies
- 1 pkg. cookie dough
- 3 to 4 graham crackers
- 1 large chocolate bar
- 1 to 2 cups of miniature marshmallows

- Line 8x8 baking dish with foil and grease lightly.
- Place graham crackers at bottom of pan, break crackers to fit the pan.
- Spread cookie dough on top of graham crackers, bake according to package instructions.
- After cookie is baked, break chocolate bar and place pieces on top of cookie.
- Layer mini marshmallows on top.
- Bake until marshmallows are golden brown.

Asha found this recipe and came up with the idea to serve it with vanilla ice cream, it was delicious! What a find!  The recipe is pretty easy too, you just have to make sure you watch the marshmallows so they don't overcook. 

We had a great time catching up with Asha and cooking away, the best part about both recipes are the ease of which they can be prepared so you still get the taste of home cooking but don't have to deal with too much fuss!  

Saturday we went to Chris' work tailgate where the RumChata Pudding Shots were a hit!  The Buckeyes won which is always good, then we had Chris' football team's championship game.  This would be the 8th graders last game for the school and playing all together as they will be going to high school next year and they may not all be together.  The OSU head coach, Urban Meyer, has a son that was playing on the opposing team, he showed up after the start so that made quite the buzz being he's a local celebrity.  Turns out Chris' boys won!  They were all so excited they cried!  So much for toughing them up for high school Coach Mo?  Haha!  The last time the team won the championship was when Chris was an 8th grader, how about that?! 

Sunday we spent the day relaxing and getting some things done around the house.  It was strange not having a football game to bundle up for and rush off to!  We decided to make a steak dinner with some steaks I found on sale at Meijer.  Chris used a new steak rub he got for his birthday from our friends Rob and Emily and I opted for the goat cheese compound butter replacement I featured in this previous post.  While waiting for our potatoes to bake before starting the grill we made some cocktails, I decided to go for a fall themed Caramel Apple Martini with cinnamon sugar rim.  I think I've made this previously but don't remember it being as good! 

Caramel Apple Martini
- 2 oz. Absolut Orient Apple Vodka (this is an apple vodka with ginger flavor, if you don't have that you can always just use apple vodka)
- 1 oz. Caramel Vodka (I used Kissed Caramel Smirnoff but there are others out there)
- 2 and 1/2 oz. apple cider
- dash of lemon juice

- Pour all ingredients in shaker over ice.
- Shake and serve in chilled glass rimmed with cinnamon and sugar, enjoy!

Well that's the weekend!  My great Aunt Chookie even featured Chris and I in her blog!  What a sweethart.  Her's is called, Here's Another Sunday!, it recaps her family's happenings for the week and is inspired by one of her uncle's who would write his sons who were serving in the military.  Aunt Chookie and her husband take loads of camping trips with their motor home so it's been fun hearing of their travels!  Amazing how technology can bring us together isn't it?! 

This week one of our Miami friends will be in town from Colorado!  We haven't seen her since July so we all can't wait to catch up!  Not sure what recipes will turn out to be on this week's agenda but stay tuned!


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