Thursday, July 26, 2012

Bella Pizzaria: Noblesville, IN

For dinner tonight, Ian and I ate at Bella Pizzaria located in the Noblesville Town Center. It was really good!  The people there running the counter do a really good, efficient job and are really nice. I actually vlogged about it!
We will probably eat there again in the near future.  Plus, I want to try more of their bread stick flavors.  There were so many!
If you like a good thin to normal crust pizza, I would recommend Bella Pizzaria!  I give it 3 and a quarter pizza pies out of four pizza pies!

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Pechin's Italian Meat Sauce

Do you know what's in your pasta sauce? Do you buy sauce in a jar? I used to buy sauce in a jar, and then add a whole bunch of my own ingredients to it. Well, I've stopped doing that and started making my own sauce!
2 lbs Ground Beef (I used 1lbs of ground turkey and 1lbs of beef.)
2 large Onions Chopped
1 Head Garlic, peel the cloves, mince
1 Can of Mushrooms Drained
1 16oz Can Tomato Sauce
2-3 Tbs Italian Seasoning
18oz Tomato Paste
2 Cans Red Gold Tomatoes with Garlic and Basil
3 Tbs Sweetener (I used Splenda.)
Ground Beef, Ground Turkey, Minced Garlic, Onions
I start by browning my ground beef and turkey with the minced garlic (about half of the head of garlic) and chopped onions.  After that, I drain off some of the grease. Than, I start adding the other ingredients into the pot, except for the sweetener.  I mix them together and let them simmer.  I let them simmer for a good 20 minutes.  Then, I taste.  
Sauce While Simmering
I like a really sweet sauce!  Some people don't!  If you don't like a sweet sauce, do not add the sweetener!  This is all to taste. I add a little bit of the sweetener at a time and keep tasting.  I let it simmer for about twenty more minutes.  Then, I put it in the fridge for the night.  Sauce usually tastes better after it's sat over night.  
The next day, I divide the sauce into portions.  I freeze a lot of it!  I usually only make a big pot of Meat Sauce once every other month.  One pot of sauce lasts me a long time! This is a really good recipe if you like to have things in your freezer that you can just heat up and add pasta.  The most important flavors in the sauce to me are garlic, I add a ton of it, and a good rich tomato flavor.  This sauce accomplishes those flavors!
What's your favorite way to make pasta sauce?  

Thursday, July 19, 2012

We Meet You At Arni's, Again!

Ian and I went to eat lunch today at Arni's.  I made a vlog about it!  I just want to give a shout out to our server Eric!  He was amazing!  Our drinks were never empty.  That's saying something about a server! Thank you!
Here's the vlog!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Lean Cuisine: Deluxe French Bread Pizza

For lunch today, I had a Lean Cuisine Deluxe French Bread Pizza. This pizza is a pretty quick lunch, since it only takes about three and a half minutes to cook in the microwave.
Front of the Lean Cuisine Box
Back of the Box
Lean Cuisine is usually a pretty safe bet when trying to make healthier choices.  Pizza is one of those foods everyone loves, but can pack on the calories.  This Deluxe French Bread Pizza comes in at 340 calories, which is pretty good!  If you do the Weight Watchers Points Plus system, it does come in at 9 points.  That's a bit on the high side for a meal.  Sometimes, you've just got to have pizza!  
Deluxe French Bread Pizza
Most of, if not all Lean Cuisine Pizzas have a box that the pizza is to be cooked on.  There are instructions on how to open the box, so the cooking shape of it will not be destroyed. You can see in the above picture how this shape comes out.  The silver plastic sheet that the pizza is cooked on, really does give the bottom of the crust more of a crispness.  I really prefer this pizza when it's cooked in the oven, but having it ready in under four minutes is really awesome!  The pepperoni and the sausage have a good flavor to them, just the right amount of spiciness. The peppers and mushrooms have an O.K. flavor to them.   The cheese is also ok.  The bread is the part I love about this pizza.  It has a really good chewiness to it.  The tomato sauce has some Italian seasoning in it that gives it a good spicy flavor.
This little pizza suffices for a quick lunch or dinner.  I give it two pizza pies out of four for have a good amount of flavor for something that's cooked in the microwave.  

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mr. Charlie

Mr. Charlie is a family recipe my parents made for me when I was little. Now, I make it for my boyfriend, and he loves it.  He wanted to know where the recipe came from.  He even asked Yahoo answers. He got an answer back.  A person said that it came out of an old Navy cookbook.   That would make since, since my dad had been in the Navy.
When I make mine, I kind of do it a cheating way.  The real way involves buying plain elbow pasta.  I start with a box of cheap macaroni and cheese.  I would call this a one pot meal, but it really takes two.
1lbs Ground Beef
1 Medium to Large Onion, Chopped
1 Can Tomato Soup
2 Cups Shredded Sharp Cheddar Cheese
1 Box Macaroni and Cheese
1/2 Cup Milk
1 Can Diced Tomatoes
1 Can Mushrooms
Salt and Pepper to Taste
  Most of the Ingredients
I forgot the tomatoes.  Also not pictured: 1/2 Cup of Milk
Start by browning the ground beef and chopped onion in a 2 to 4 qt pot.  While that is cooking, in another pan, start boiling the elbow pasta as instructed on the box of Mac 'n Cheese. After the beef is cooked, drain the grease off.  
Ingredients before Pasta is Added
I then, start adding all of the other ingredients into the pan with the beef. I drain the mushrooms and add those.  Then, I add the can of tomatoes without draining them. I dump the cheese powder from the box of Mac 'n Cheese into the pan.  I add about a 1 and a 1/2 of the shredded cheese to the pan.  I put in the can of tomato soup in.  I then pour the 1/2 cup of milk into the soup can to rinse out the left over soup.  I pour that into the pot, then.  After that, I add a very small amount of salt and a very large amount of ground pepper.  I like pepper!  
      Drained Elbow Pasta
When the pasta is done, I drain it.  I then add it to the pot of ingredients.  This is when I start tasting.  I usually add more shredded cheese at this point.  You can use any cheese you like, but I like the shredded sharp cheddar or Colby.  I let the cheese and other ingredients simmer for about ten minutes.  
Mr. Charlie
This dish is very flexible!  You can add Italian seasoning to it and go one way, or add Chili Powder to it and make it a Tex Mex Dish.  You could also change the can of tomatoes to a can of Rotel Tomatoes and Chilis to go in the Tex Mex direction.  
Mr. Charlie with a Roll
This is an easy meal that can be made to your taste.  You can serve it with tortilla chips or with a roll.  This is also a little piece of my family's history!  Enjoy!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Mexican Pizza: Homemade

This may be a trade secret, but when you work at a restaurant, a lot of food experimenting goes on in the kitchen.  When I worked at Arni's in Lafayette, after hours, if we were really nice, we could ask the cooks at the Pizza Counter to make us a Mexican Pizza!  I started thinking about this last week and decided, I should try to make one at home!
1 Lb. of Taco Meat (I'm using ground beef.  You could probably use Fajita Chicken or Steak.)
1 8oz. Bag Shredded Mexican Cheese
1 8oz. Bag Shredded Mozzarella Cheese
1/2 Sliced Large Onion
2-3 Sliced and/or Diced Roma Tomatoes
1 Can Pillsbury Pizza Crust (I used the 11oz. Thin Crust.)
1/2-1 16oz Jar Picante Sauce
3-4 Cloves Garlic
3-4 Tbl. Spoons Olive Oil
*Preheat the oven according to the instructions on the can. The one I had said 400 degrees.
Picante Sauce and Toppings
I used the Crust Trick I blogged about previously. (This is when you use the garlic cloves and the olive oil.)  Then, I baked the crust for about 7 minutes.  I took it out and started adding my ingredients.  First, I put on the Picante Sauce.  I used about half the jar.  If you want it saucier, go ahead and use more.  Then, I put on the taco meat I had made for tacos earlier in the week.  I used a little more than a half a pound.  After that, I put on the tomatoes and onions.  The cheese comes next!  I love cheese!  I put on the entire package of Mexican cheese. Than, I used the entire package of Mozzarella.  
Super Cheesy! Yum!
I cooked the pizza in the oven for eleven more minutes.  I took it out and let it set for about ten more minutes.  When cooking with stoneware, the stoneware stays hot after it's taken out of the oven for a while.  This means, the food continues to bake or cook more while sitting on it.  
Finished Pizza
This pizza turned out awesome!  It tasted really great with the picante sauce. I was little worried, but I really liked it!  I used the veggies I keep normally around the apartment.  Next time I make it, I may try to get some multi-color fresh peppers on it.  
Sour Cream Garnish
I garnished this with sour cream.  I would have loved to have some fresh guacamole on it. I didn't happen to have any made this evening. I would recommend this pizza for anyone that likes to try different foods, and especially Mexican foods.  It came out tasting awesome, and didn't take a lot of time to make! 

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Spinach Artichoke Dip

When you go out to eat, do you order the Spinach Artichoke Dip appetizer?  This recipe is way better than any Spinach Artichoke Dip I've had out at the restaurants.
1 Package Frozen Chopped Spinach Defrosted/Rinsed/Drained
1 12oz Can Artichokes Drained
1 16oz Package Shredded Parmesan Cheese
1 16oz Container Sour Cream
1 Cup Mayonnaise
1-2 Tbs Garlic Powder
1 Brick Cream Cheese
Ground Black Pepper to Taste
*Preheat oven to 350 degrees. 
Spinach Artichoke Dip
I start by throwing the spinach and artichokes into my food processor for about 30 seconds.  I throw it in my bowl after that. I use a mixing bowl that I can stick in the oven.  That makes life easier!  With the spinach and artichoke mixture, I put in all of the other ingredients, except the Parmesan.  I put in half of the bag of Parmesan.  I mix all of these ingredients together.  Then, I put in in the oven and bake for around 30 minutes.  I take it out at that point and put the rest of the Parmesan cheese on top.  I stick it back in the oven for ten to fifteen more minutes.  When the cheese is turning a pretty golden color and the edges are starting to crisp up, I take it out.  I let the dish rest for ten to fifteen minutes.
I serve this with tortilla chips, french bread, and/or petite toasts.  It tastes awesome!  It turns out creamier than some of the recipes I've used, or the appetizers I've tried at the restaurants.  This makes a lot of dip!  Be prepared to share it with people!  I've tried to make it with light cream cheese and low fat sour cream.  It came out a little bit on the watery side, but it wasn't awful. I've seen recipes that just use mayo and another ingredient like cream cheese, but I think you need all three ingredients, the mayo, cream cheese, and sour cream to get the full creaminess!
What's your recipe for Spinach Artichoke Dip?